Sandy • Goalkeeper Nick Rimando stopped the first nine shots he faced in Real Salt Lake's two-game playoff series against Seattle.
The Sounders' 10th shot eluded him, however, and they advanced to the Western Conference finals with a 1-0 victory Thursday night at Rio Tinto Stadium.
The outcome followed a swarming effort by RSL, especially in the first half, and a counterattack approach by Seattle. It paid off for the Sounders when Mario Martinez scored in the 81st minute.
"Seattle lived and died with the counter," said RSL coach Jason Kreis. "… It's just unfortunate we were on the losing end of that."
After another scoreless outing, midfielder Javier Morales was disappointed RSL could not finish off Seattle on its home field.
"We have to close this leg," he said. "We were excited. We try too hard. They sit back and score a goal, and we go home."
Midfielder Will Johnson agreed it was difficult to "put your finger" on RSL's inability to slip one of its 14 shot attempts past Seattle keeper Michael Gspurning.
"I think we had chances," Johnson said. "We just weren't getting the bounces down the stretch. We weren't getting any calls. … I don't know."
Going back to the end of the regular season, RSL entered the decisive battle with Seattle with a record of 6-1-5 in its previous 12 games. RSL finished with 17 victories during the MLS season and ended up with a franchise-record 57 points one more than the Sounders. After a 0-0 draw in Game 1, it looked like RSL had a golden opportunity to advance in the playoffs. Martinez ended those hopes.
"We're disappointed. Every year you don't accomplish something winning the [MLS] Cup you'll be disappointed for sure," Rimando said.
"But at the end of the day, I think we had a good performance this whole season. We had a lot of wins, points. We had a good record."