SANDY, UT - OCTOBER 29: Alvaro Saborio #15 of Real Salt Lake fights for the ball with Osvaldo Alonso #6 and John Hurtado #34 of the Seattle Sounders during the first half of an MLS play-off 1st leg soccer game October 29, 2011 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

Real Salt Lake Vs. Seattle Sounders, MLS Cup Playoffs 2011: RSL Obliterates Sounders 3-0

The Seattle Sounders never really showed up at all. Real Salt Lake put in a dominating performance at home, and the Sounders will need a miracle in the second leg to advance to the next round of the playoffs.

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Real Salt Lake Vs. Seattle Sounders, MLS Cup Playoffs 2011: RSL Takes Sounders Behind The Woodshed In 3-0 Win

Back in April, there was no doubt who the best team in MLS was. It was Real Salt Lake. They were so close to a CONCACAF Champions League title and in league play were just running through teams. Then Javier Morales went down hurt. Other players followed and the rest of the season was somewhat of a mess as they just tried to get healthy. On Saturday, they were healthy and together for the first time since early May. Want to know the result? A hearty 3-0 smacking of the Seattle Sounders in the first leg of their conference semifinal tie.

While RSL was happy to get everyone back, the Sounders were battling an injury of their own and a big one at that. Mauro Rosales, the Sounders' MVP candidate was out with a knee injury and they sure missed him. Seattle was completely devoid of creativity in the final third and when the final whistle blew, they were still in search of their first shot on goal. Simply put, Salt Lake thumped them.

The chances came early and often for Salt Lake, but Kasey Keller kept them away with some tremendous saves. Eventually, Chris Wingert got free down the left though and hit it across for Alvaro Saborio to tap in, leaving Keller no chance to bail out his team. All he could do was appeal for offside, as the entire Sounders team did, but the referee gave the goal as replays showed that it was too close to definitively call.

That goal gave RSL a lead at halftime, but it didn't even take 10 minutes for them to double that lead in the second half and it was Saborio again. While the first goal was a simple tap in, this was a beauty by Saborio. Morales crossed low and hard towards the near post, whee Saborio got to the ball and flicked a gorgeous back heel past Keller to make it 2-0 Salt Lake.

While all this was going on, Jamison Olave and Nat Borchers were going down injured for Salt Lake. By the time that Ned Grabavoy popped in to make it 3-0 in the 88th minute, both of the Salt Lake center backs had gone down with injuries. It leaves their status for the second leg in doubt, but it might not matter too much. Salt Lake has a 3-0 lead going into that second leg and Seattle has a long ways back to avoid first round elimination for the third straight season. 

For more on this game and playoff series, check out Seattle Sounders blog Sounder At Heart and Real Salt Lake blog RSL Soapbox. We have complete coverage of this match in our RSL vs. Seattle Sounders StoryStream. For more on the entire world of soccer and the rest of the MLS Playoffs, check out SB Nation Soccer.

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Real Salt Lake Vs. Seattle Sounders Live, MLS Cup Playoffs 2011: Alvaro Saborio Opens Scoring

And there's Real Salt Lake's momentum retrieval machine. Its name is Alvaro Saborio, and it has scored a goal to make it 1-0 to the hosts in the first leg of this MLS Cup Playoff clash. Chris Wingert does well on the left to fashion space for a cross, and it evades the entire Seattle defence to free up Saborio for a tap-in from very close range.

The Sounders are protesting that he had strayed offside, and television cameras are indicating that they have a case, but it was a marginal decision and the defending was terrible, so they should probably not be kicking up quite that much of a fuss. Anyway, down by a goal, Seattle respond with about four shots. They're all right at defenders, however. Not going to test Nick Rimando like that, Sounders. Neither is missing a free header from six yards out a particularly good idea. Yeah, I'm looking at you, Alvaro Fernandez

For more on this game and playoff series, check out Seattle Sounders blog Sounder At Heart and Real Salt Lake blog RSL Soapbox. We'll have live coverage of this match in our RSL vs. Seattle Sounders StoryStream. For more on the entire world of soccer and the rest of the MLS Playoffs, check out SB Nation Soccer.

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Real Salt Lake Vs. Seattle Sounders Live, MLS Cup Playoffs 2011: Jamison Olave Injury Forces Substitution

Ooof. That could have been very bad for the Seattle Sounders. Just as it looked as though they were going to spring a neat little counterattack on Real Salt Lake, Alvaro Fernandez is brought down by right back Robbie Russell, who then leaves his legs in about... three seconds too long and catches the midfielder's legs in a scissor tackle. Fortunately, Fernandez only requires a couple of minute's treatment, but that's rather besides the point - that was the sort of tackle that would have earned Russell a booking in any other league. Here it wasn't even a foul.

And then Fabian Espindola goes in two-footed on Leo Gonzalez and does earn himself a yellow card, although one might argue that even that was lenient. Better than no foul being given, though. Considering the tackles that RSL have been laying in, it's somewhat surprising that it's actually a home player who has to be recalled due to injury - Jamison Olavo is hurt and can't continue, and Chris Schuler replaces him. That's not good at all for Real Salt Lake. Are they going to be able to contain Fredy Montero with Olave out?

Anyway, it's not entirely clear how bad the injury is at this point - Olave was able to keep playing on it for a little while and came off under his own power, so it probably isn't too serious, but we'll have to wait and see if he'll be available for selection in the return leg.

For more on this game and playoff series, check out Seattle Sounders blog Sounder At Heart and Real Salt Lake blog RSL Soapbox. We'll have live coverage of this match in our RSL vs. Seattle Sounders StoryStream. For more on the entire world of soccer and the rest of the MLS Playoffs, check out SB Nation Soccer.

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Real Salt Lake Vs. Seattle Sounders, 2011 MLS Cup Playoffs: TV Schedule, Time And More

The quarterfinals of the 2011 MLS Cup Playoffs get underway with one game on Sunday night, as Real Salt Lake host the Seattle Sounders in the first leg of their home and away series, decided on aggregate score. The first legs of the other three quarterfinal matches all take place on Sunday. Yes, MLS decided to play one Saturday game and three Sunday games on a week with no marquee college football matchups and all kinds of NFL action. Genius. You can catch this one on TV in both the USA and Canada.

Real Salt Lake Vs. Seattle Sounders

Time: 10:00 pm ET, 8:00 pm local, Saturday, October 29

Venue: Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy, Utah

TV: FOX Soccer Channel (USA), TSN2 (Canada)

For more on this game and playoff series, check out Seattle Sounders blog Sounder At Heart and Real Salt Lake blog RSL Soapbox. We'll have live coverage of this match in our RSL vs. Seattle Sounders StoryStream. For more on the entire world of soccer and the rest of the MLS Playoffs, check out SB Nation Soccer.

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