RSL notes: Claret-and-Cobalt can't relent against Sounders

Oct 31 2011 - 8:36pm

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Nick Rimando is a pretty smart guy.

Having started 288 matches in his 12 year Major League Soccer career, the 32-year old native of Montclair, Calif., knows just how important it is for Real Salt Lake not to lose its focus as its Western Conference semifinal series shifts to Seattle this week for the decisive second leg.

"We've gotta go out and play; we can't just sit back and let (Seattle) come at us," Rimando said. "Seattle is a tough place to play. 3-0 is a good lead, but I think we need to continue to play well.

"They're still a great team and they'll be better at home, so we have to make sure we do everything right with our bodies, and I'm sure coach will have a game plan for us."

The Claret-and-Cobalt own what looks like a commanding 3-0 lead over the Sounders in the two-leg, aggregate goals series that culminates on Wednesday at CenturyLink Field, but Seattle led the league in scoring this season and could return Mauro Rosales from injury for the match.

"You can't be too comfortable with any score," Rimando said. "They have so many dangerous weapons all over the field."

Real picked up a clean sheet against Seattle in the first leg without Rimando having to make a single save as none of the Sounders' 10 shots were on frame. It was the veteran's ninth career postseason shutout and 15th of the season against an MLS opponent.

"One of our focuses was to keep a zero back there," Rimando said. "I think my job was pretty easy tonight because of the guys in front of me keeping it tight, keeping a high line and stepping to the ball."

Rimando also pointed to having RSL holding midfielder Kyle Beckerman back in the lineup after missing the previous four matches due to suspension and a U.S. national team call-up.

"We knew (Seattle) had some lethal weapons up top and in the midfield and (we had) to stay compact," Rimando added. "When you add a leader like Kyle Beckerman to the lineup it gives us a lot of defensive work, and he covers so much ground."

Also due praise on the RSL defense was substitute Chris Schuler, who came on in the 32nd minute, replacing central defender Jamison Olave after the Columbian injured his right quadriceps. Schuler fit in nicely in the central role, helping to successfully keep Seattle's often explosive counter-attack offense in check.

Olave and fellow center back Nat Borchers ,who suffered a left knee sprain in the second half and left in the 84th minute, will both be evaluated through the week leading up to Wednesday's match.

"Hopefully it's nothing too serious with those guys, but again, guys stepped up and we said, 'You know, the playoffs are when you step up,'aa" Rimando added. "We showed that we have some depth tonight and guys slid over and we got the win tonight."

If Olave and Borchers aren't able to go on Wednesday, that depth will surely be tested, but it's hard to imagine Real letting its commanding advantage slip entirely away.

You can follow Justin Johnson on Twitter at: @jjohnson801 or email him at justinjohnson801@gmail.com.

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