SEATTLE – Gustav Svensson scored his second career playoff goal in the 64th minute, Nicolas Lodeiro added the capper in the 81st minute and the Seattle Sounders advanced to the Western Conference final for the third time in four seasons with a 2-0 win over Real Salt Lake on Wednesday night.
Svensson flicked a header off a corner kick past goalkeeper Nick Rimando, in the final match of his career, midway through the second half after Seattle had dominated scoring chances all night. It was Svensson’s first goal of the season.
Seattle will face Los Angeles FC or the LA Galaxy in the conference final Tuesday. The Sounders will host if it’s the Galaxy; they will go to Southern California if LAFC is their opponent. Seattle won each of its last two trips to the conference final under the old format of the MLS Cup playoffs.
Svensson’s role for Seattle is a defensive midfielder, but he was the scorer the Sounders needed on a night Rimando made a farewell to MLS after 20 seasons. Rimando was the best player for Salt Lake but couldn’t withstand Seattle’s pressure and was eventually beaten late.
Rimando finished with seven saves in his final game. He will leave MLS as the league’s all-time leader in wins, saves, shutouts and games.
While RSL controlled possession, Seattle dominated scoring chances, seemingly each one getting closer to getting past Rimando. Kelvin Leerdam had a pair of chances denied early in the second half. Rimando first batted away a volleyed attempt then made a quick reaction to keep Leerdam’s deflected cross off Nedum Onuoha from going in for an own goal.
Just moments before Svensson’s goal, Rimando tipped Cristian Roldan’s header over the crossbar at the last moment. But Rimando was helpless on Seattle’s breakthrough. The corner kick from Lodeiro came to the near post and without a defender on the goal line at the post, Rimando couldn’t react in time.
Lodeiro’s insurance goal was started by a perfect pass from Brad Smith to Raul Ruidiaz, who smartly left it off for Lodeiro to finish.
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