Real Salt Lake defeated the Seattle Sounders FC 2-1 on Saturday afternoon to take over the Western Conference lead. Below is a short summary of the encounter and post game reactions from coaches and players.
Joao Plata, Major League Soccer's shortest player, scored the first goal of the match on a header in the 53rd minute. Luke Mulholland's free kick from the left edge of the box to the far post drifted over Seattle midfielder Lamar Neagle. The 5'2" Plata headed the ball past keeper Stefan Frei and 1-0 RSL advantage.
In the 57th minute, the Seattle defense made a poor clearance out of the 18-yard box. Luis Gil made a short pass between two Seattle defenders to Mulholland inside the penalty area. Seattle midfielder Osvaldo Alonso and Mulholland both raced for possession. Alonso's last touch rolled into his own net to double RSL's lead.
Forward Chad Barrett reduced the home side's edge to one with a tally in the 72nd minute. The Sounders had several chance to tie in the late stages of the game, but failed to score the tying goal.
Seattle played without striker Obafemini Martins, who sat out due to a red card suspension. Midfielder Marco Pappa was held out of the lineup after suffering a slight hamstring pull.
By the numbers
- With the win, Real Salt Lake's unbeaten in their last six matches (4-0-2).
- Seattle's lost its last three road games.
- Barrett's goal was the first goal allowed by RSL keeper Nick Rimando in 285 minutes.
- RSL and Sporting KC (42 points in 24 games ) hold a one point lead over the Sounders (41 points in 22 games) in the Supporters' Shield standings.
They said it:
On Plata's goal
Jeff Cassar, RSL Head Coach: "It was an excellent ball from Luke [Mulholland], and an excellent finish from Joao [Plata]. We were knocking on the door, and we felt that we were going to get stronger as the game went on, and we did.”
Kyler Beckerman, RSL Midfielder: “I couldn’t believe it was him again. He can score goals from any way and he has shown that this year. Left foot, right foot, and now with his head. He’s a special player...They’re going to have to put Chad Marshall on Joao next time we play.”
Chris Wingerst, RSL Defender: "But he’s an absolute monster. I mean he’s scoring on headers now. He’s holding the ball up against Chad Marshall. I mean, that is incredible at times. He’s running these guys into the corner against guys who are playing it fast. Guys like Yedlin and whatever."
On Barrett's goal and missed chances to tie
Sigi Schmid, Sounders FC Head Coach: “I think there were a lot of people involved in the goal. Dempsey had a shot, Rimando made a big save. Andy (Rose) had a header come off the post, and then Barrett cleaned it up, but that’s the effect we expect of him...We had chances in the second half as well. We had a couple of good looks – the one that Barrett just puts it across the box and so forth. I think when you consider everything: us having to travel, the amount of games we’ve played, and for us to come back from 2-0 to 2-1 and then continue to put chances forward, I thought it was a good character showing from the team.”
Andy Rose, Sounders FC Midfielder: “He’s a brilliant player. He can certainly be a starter in this league...I think his biggest asset for us is just he’s a great soccer mind really. He can bring other guys in, he can turn, can shoot, can finish. He’s definitely a huge part of the team.”
On the importance of the victory over Seattle
Nick Rimando, RSL Goalkeeper: “It’s a game that we wanted to win, but not a must win. There’s lots of games left. I think we’re striving at the right time and we focused on this game and kind of just improving from the last.”
Kyle Beckerman: “We were nine points away from Seattle not too long ago, and now we’re here and we have a home game where we can overtake them. We were really up for it. We felt that this was an opportunity that we earned.”
On containing Clint Dempsey
Nick Rimando: “Whenever he got on the ball we get somebody in his face. Someone is stepping on his toes, and making sure if he’s playing, he’s playing backwards. But everybody did well in the back. Obviously they got one goal, but with the firepower they have, usually they’re knocking a couple in the game, so it was good to get the victory especially in front of our fans.”
Clint Dempsey, Sounders FC Midfielder: “I just think the game, being at 12:30, takes a lot out of both teams. The heat and everything, it’s going to be a slow tempo game. For us, coming here and dealing with the altitude, we tried to manage that first half so we could make a push in the second. Obviously, you don’t want to concede two goals, but we tried to fight back, but at the end of the day, we didn’t have enough to make it happen.”
M'Baye Niang put the nightmare of the Paris terror attacks firmly behind him with two goals and an assist as AC Milan crushed a sorry Sampdoria 4-1 at the San Siro on Saturday.
Niang admitted last week the events of the past fortnight had left him worried for the safety of family and friends in and around the French capital.
But the 20-year-old from the Paris suburbs produced a confident performance for the Rossoneri, first delivering for Giacomo Bonaventura's opener on 16 minutes and then beating Emiliano Viviano from the spot after the Milan winger had been hauled down in the area seven minutes before the interval.
Niang secured Milan's seventh win of the campaign when he fired under Viviano four minutes after the restart after the 'keeper's fluffed clearance.
When he was replaced by Luiz Adriano 15 minutes from the whistle it took the Brazilian just four minutes to find the net after volleying Alessio Cerci's intelligent cross past Viviano.
The only blot on Milan's copybook was Gianluigi Donnarumma's failure to stop Luis Muriel from the spot after Andrea Pioli had tugged on Eder in the area in the closing minutes.
Milan moved up to fifth place at seven points behind leaders Inter ahead of the remainder of the weekend matches, with Sampdoria's second successive defeat under new coach Vincenzo Montella leaving them 14 points adrift.
"It was an almost perfect performance," said Milan coach Sinisa Mihajlovic, who gave a special mention to Niang.
"He's a big player for us, he was doing really well in pre-season then he got injured. Now he's back in form and he's doing well, but he already showed at Genoa (loan) what he was made of."
For the fifth consecutive match Mihajlovic opted for teenage goalkeeper Donnarumma over the more experienced Diego Lopez but the 16-year-old had to dive low to parry after his messy clearance fell to Roberto
Soriano 30 yards out in the opening minute.
From then on, it was all Milan with Niang the main protagonist before making way for Adriano on 74 minutes.
Having spent the last half of last season on loan at Genoa, the striker said he in enjoying playing in a pure
striker's role under Mihajlovic.
"I'm really happy because I've been waiting for this for a longtime, the hard work's paying off and I hope it continues like this," said Niang.
"I played as a centre-forward, the position I prefer and I think that along with our win over Lazio this was our best display this season."
Milan broke the deadlock on 16 minutes with Alessio Cerci, whose eighth minute goal was ruled offside, involved before Niang burst down the right to fire in a weighted delivery that Bonaventura slid in to meet at the back post.
Milan built on their momentum and Niang almost doubled the lead when he collected Juraj Kucka's short delivery on the right to drag his angled shot inches wide of Viviano's far post.
Sampdoria were struggling to find any rhythm and Milan's movement in the final third of the pitch was causing huge problems for the visitors.
Niang left Edgar Barreto behind to burst down the right and fire across the bows, but Bonaventura's first-timer from the six-yard line blasted over.
Samp's only real chance came when Luis Muriel dribbled his way into the area but despite turning Milan's defence his promising strike was blocked by Alessio Romagnoli.
Niang came close twice with flicks that inched wide of Viviano's post just after the restart.
But when the 'keeper fluffed a clearance, Niang collected and strode confidently into the area to fire under his body and secure the second brace of his Serie A career, after hitting a double for Genoa against Verona last season.
A tiring Niang soon made way for Adriano and only four minutes later Cerci was given time and space to the right of the area to pick out the Brazilian with a pinpoint pass which he controlled before firing past a helpless Viviano.
Earlier, Torino moved up to seventh place with a 2-0 home win over Bologna thanks to second-half goals from Andrea Belotti and Giuseppe Vives.