On another day, the suspense might have ended early. The Sounders bolted to a 2-0 lead in the first 10 minutes and 3-0 in the first 20 on their way to a 3-1 win over Real Salt Lake.
However, this was Decision Day in Major League Soccer, with all five Western Conference games playing out simultaneously. Almost every goal from every game changed the Sounders’ projected seeding and opponent. When the final whistle on the final pitch finally blew, Seattle was in fourth place and the right to host a single loser-out match with fifth-place Los Angeles at midweek.
Needing a win to assure themselves of their seventh-straight playoff qualification, the Sounders jumped ahead with a Clint Dempsey goal in the fifth minute, a Marco Pappa strike in the 10th, and another Dempsey score in the 20th.
It was the first time the Sounders had scored two goals in the opening 10 minutes or three in the opening 20. Meanwhile, Dempsey became the third player in club history to score two goals in the first 20 minutes, joining Obafemi Martins and Steve Zakuani.
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Luis Gill got the lone RSL goal in the 77th minute. The visitors arrived in Seattle already out of playoff contention, and played without No. 1 goalkeeper Nick Rimando due to a meniscus injury, and midfielder Kyle Beckerman due to yellow card suspension.
The game was played before a crowd of 55,435, which pushed Seattle to a new MLS season-attendance record, averaging 44,245.