REAL SALT LAKE 1, SEATTLE 0
SEATTLE (AP)—Fabian Espindola credited the birth of his son for an extra bit of motivation Saturday night in Real Salt Lake’s showdown with the Seattle Sounders for the Western Conference lead.
Espindola scored in the 51st minute and Real Salt Lake beat Seattle 1-0.
“This is my first goal after my son was born I’m so happy about that,” said Espindola, who missed a 0-0 draw with Chicago on Wednesday night following the birth of his son. “Every goal is going to be for him now.”
Salt Lake improved to 8-3-2, dropping Seattle to 7-2-1 and snapping the Sounders’ franchise record-tying winning streak at five games in front of a season-high crowd of 39,312 - the third largest in Seattle MLS history. Seattle, coming off three consecutive shutouts, could have moved into first place with a victory.
“It’s always nice to play against a lot of people,” Espindola said. “I don’t think it affected us much. It’s no big deal.”
Espindola scored on a left-footed shot from the center of the box to the bottom right corner.
“It was a very, very well-taken goal,” RSL coach Jason Kreis said. “He got a little bit fortunate with the bounce that fell between the legs of (Jeff) Parke. On a different night that bounce doesn’t go our way, but it went our way and he took it really, really well and I think quicker than (goalkeeper Bryan) Meredith was expecting him to shoot.”
RSL improved to 3-0-2 over the last five games. Goalkeeper Nick Rimando didn’t have to make any saves after missing the game against Chicago because of a shoulder injury.
Real Salt Lake outshot the Sounders 10-8.
“We definitely wanted to jump ahead of them on points in the standings,” Meredith said. “The loss was unfortunate. It’s tough to be shut out. But they’re a good side for sure. It just wasn’t our night.”
Espindola’s goal ended Seattle’s shutout streak at 321 minutes, including three straight shutouts. Meredith’s streak ended at 275 minutes with two shutouts in place of Michael Gspurning, out with a hip injury.
“It’s a very long season with a lot of games left,” Meredith said. “We’ve got to make sure we’re upset about it for sure. But we can’t dwell on it too long. We have to come back Monday and get back to work next weekend.”
It was the fifth game in 15 days for the Sounders, which might have taken a toll.
“It’s tough when you have five games in however many days like we did,” Meredith said. “A lot of the guys have played most of those minutes so eventually fatigue will wear in no matter how good are trainers are. But they’re a good side for sure and will challenge people throughout the season. But we play them two more times so hopefully we’ll get it back.”
Seattle had a few chances in the last several minutes but came up empty.
“We just have two of the best center backs in the league if not the best center backs in the league,” Kreis said. “You had two of the best forwards in the league against two of the best center backs in the league and on this night our guys won.”
RSL came out firing in the second half after just one shot in the first half. Espindola scored his fourth goal of the season on the team’s fourth shot in the first 6 minutes of the second half.
RSL beat the Sounders in the Western Conference semifinals last year.
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