Needing a three-goal victory to have any chance of advancing to the Western Conference final, the Sounders managed only a 2-0 win tonight at CenturyLink Field.
That wasn’t enough to overcome the three-goal hole they had dug with a 3-0 loss at Real Salt Lake on Saturday -- including what proved to be a crushing third goal in the 88th minute.
That send Seattle into the deciding game needing for almost everything to go right for them. Instead, things started going wrong almost immediately.
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In the third minute Fredy Montero missed wide from close range. Before the 22nd minute, half the starting midfield -- Alvaro Fernandez and Brad Evans – were out with injuries. In the 37th minute, a Brad Parke shot on goal was headed away by defender Tony Beltran. In the 42nd minute, a Montero goal was waved off because he bumped goalkeeper Nick Rimando out of the way.
Seattle finally broke through in the 56th minute, when Osvaldo Alonso knocked in a penalty kick.
Their next goal came seven minutes later, this time with Lamar Neagle finishing, assisted by Montero and Alonso.
Kasey Keller, whose career also ended tonight, came up with one dazzling final save in the 79th minute, stopping Fabian Espindola on a breakaway.
However, Seattle never got the goal needed to sent the series into added time and perhaps on to penalty kicks.
The result ends the Sounders’ third MLS season 19 wins, eight losses and nine draws after it began in mid-March.
In all competitions, the Sounders went 27-11-10. They won the U.S. Open Cup for the third time, thereby qualified for CONCACAF Champions League for the third time, and advanced out of Champions League group play for the first time. They won the Cascadia Cup in competition against Northwest rivals Portland and Vancouver. They won the Heritage Cup in competition against San Jose.
What they did not do was break their record of never having won a playoff series, as they were eliminated in the first round for the third consecutive season.
Real Salt Lake, the 2009 MLS Cup winner, will advance to the Western Conference final against the winner of the New York-Los Angeles series, which resolves tomorrow.
I'll add new quotes in new posts above. Here are the unofficial stats:
Scoring Summary: SEA -- Osvaldo Alonso 1 (penalty kick) 56SEA -- Lamar Neagle 1 (Fredy Montero 1, Osvaldo Alonso 1) 61 Real Salt Lake -- Nick Rimando, Robbie Russell, Chris Schuler, Chris Wingert, Tony Beltran, Kyle Beckerman, Will Johnson, Andy Williams (Ned Grabavoy 57), Javier Morales (Luis Gil 89), Alvaro Saborio (Yordany Alvarez 76), Fabian Espindola.
Substitutes Not Used: Paulo Araujo Jr., Rauwshan McKenzie, Collen Warner, Kyle Reynish.
TOTAL SHOTS: 4 (4 tied with 1); SHOTS ON GOAL: 1 (Fabian Espindola 1); FOULS: 16 (Kyle Beckerman 3, Fabian Espindola 3); OFFSIDES: 3 (Fabian Espindola 3); CORNER KICKS: 2 (Javier Morales 2); SAVES: 6 (Nick Rimando 6)
Seattle Sounders -- Kasey Keller, Zach Scott, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez, Brad Evans (Roger Levesque 21), Osvaldo Alonso, Erik Friberg, Alvaro Fernandez (Lamar Neagle 14), Mike Fucito (Sammy Ochoa 76), Fredy Montero.
Substitutes Not Used: Nate Jaqua, James Riley, Tyson Wahl, Bryan Meredith.
TOTAL SHOTS: 26 (Osvaldo Alonso 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 9 (Lamar Neagle 3); FOULS: 17 (Leo Gonzalez 4, Fredy Montero 4); OFFSIDES: 0; CORNER KICKS: 10 (Mike Fucito 6); SAVES: 1 (Kasey Keller 1) Misconduct Summary:RSL -- Tony Beltran (caution; Tactical Foul) 55RSL -- Nick Rimando (caution; Delaying a Restart) 56SEA -- Roger Levesque (caution; Reckless Tackle) 62SEA -- Leo Gonzalez (caution; Reckless Tackle) 92+ Referee: Jair MarrufoReferee's Assistants:-Corey Rockwell; C.J. Morgante4th Official: Jasen AnnoAttendance: 36,021Time of Game: 1:58Weather: Rain-and-49-degrees61st minute:
GOAL Seattle. This time Neagle scoring, assisted by Montero and Alonso. Seattle up 2-0 tonight, and down 3-2 in aggregate.
54th minute: GOAL Seattle. Alonso PK makes it 1-0 Seattle tonight and 3-1 RSL in aggregate. Kick awarded after Beltran took down Fucito in the area. Beltran carded.
Second half: Has begun. No lineup changes.
Halftime: Scoreless. Give the Sounders a friendlier angle on their shoulders and they could have gotten those three goals back by now. Maybe with one to spare.
But nope. On a night when almost everything needed to go right – things started going wrong almost immediately. In the third minute Fredy Montero missed wide from close range. Before the 22nd minute, half the starting midfield -- Alvaro Fernandez and Brad Evans – were out with injuries. In the 37th minute, a Brad Parke shot on goal was headed away by defender Tony Beltran. In the 42nd minute, a Montero goal was waved off because he bumped goalkeeper Nick Rimando out of the way.
Seattle took 15 shots to RSL's one and put four on goal to RSL's zero.
And now the difficult task of at least three goals in 90 minutes is down to the more difficult task of at least three goals in 45 minutes.
42nd and 43 minutes: Apparent Montero goal waved off as he made contact first with GK Rimando. Then Montero shot with some space sailed over crossbar.
36th and 37th minutes: Levesque puts shot over bar from 15 yards. Parke shot on goal headed away by Tony Beltran. Add in Montero's early miss and there -- in a Sounders-friendlier world -- are the three goals the Sounders need. But it's 0-0.
First 30 minutes: Most of play is on Sounders attacking end. But its scoreless, which means at least three goals needed in 60 minutes ... and counting.
21st minute: Levesque in for Evans, who leaves with right ankle injury. That's second Seattle sub already, following Fernandez departure with left hamstring injury.
14th minute: Neagle in for Fernandez, who tried to play on briefly after going down to the turf a few minutes earlier.
Kickoff: We're under way. Sounders in green/blue; RSL in red/blue.
Raining ... really raining: This isn't just that normal little Seattle mist. This is real rain. And wind. Miserable. The question is: does this wild card weather element help or hurt whom?
Lineup: For Sounders: GK Keller, D Scott, Parke, Hurtado, Gonzales; M Evans, Alonso, Friberg, Fernandez; F Fucito, Montero. Bench: Meredith, Jaqua, Levesque, Neagle, Ochoa, Riley, Wahl.
For RSL: GK Rimando; D Russell, Schuler, Wingert, Beltran; M Beckerman, Johnson, Williams, Morales; F Saborio, Espindola. Reserves: Reynish, Alvarez, Araunjo, Gil, Gravavoy, McKenzie, Warner.
Expect 7:20 kickoff: It's still raining at CenturyLink. Hard. I'm sure the fans filling the bowl aren't thrilled that pregame news releases rounded off what will actually be a 7:20 start to 7.
Final from KC: Sporting Kansas City wins tonight, 2-0, and advances 4-0 on aggregate. Reigning champion Colorado eliminated.
Hour before kickoff: Gates are open and the Emerald City Supporters are filling their section with rave-colored raingear the clothing option of choice.
From Kansas City: SKC leads 1-0 at halftime. That means defending champion Colorado is three goals down, just like the Sounders. But unlike the Sounders, they are only the road and have only 45 minutes to make up the difference.
90 minutes before kick: It has started raining at CenturyLink.
Two hours before kick: It's cloudy, cool and but not yet rainy around CenturyLink Field where the Sounders and RSL will play for their playoff lives tonight at 7. Salt Lake starts with a three-goal advantage in the aggregate-score series.
The game will be shown in ESPN2, broadcast on the usual radio outlets, and we'll have pregame, in-game and postgame reports here and on Twitter. Your comments welcome in all media as always.