By TIM BOOTH
AP Sports Writer
SEATTLE (AP) -- Kasey Keller took one final lap of appreciation
around Seattle's home field, clapping and giving thumbs up the
entire way to those that stuck around.
The career of arguably American's most influential goalkeeper
ended on Wednesday night with a victory, that turned out to be a
"It's a weird, weird feeling thinking this is the last time,"
Keller said after the Sounders' 2-0 win over Real Salt Lake.
Osvaldo Alonso and Lamar Neagle scored five minutes apart early
in the second half, but Salt Lake advanced to the Western
Conference final with a 3-2 aggregate victory over Seattle.
Seattle failed to dig out of a 3-0 hole created with a
lackluster performance last Saturday in Utah, although they
nearly gave Keller a chance to extend his career.
Instead, it's Salt Lake moving on to the conference final to
play either New York or Los Angeles with a trip to the MLS Cup
final at stake.
"Four days ago, we were just completely dominant. Tonight, back
on our heels and being dominated," Real Salt Lake coach Jason
Kreis said. "In a span of four days, (it's) difficult to figure
out. Our guys battled through, believed in each other kept at
It's the second trip to Major League Soccer's final four in the
last three seasons for Salt Lake. They won the 2009 MLS Cup
final on Seattle's home field, then ended the most successful of
the Sounders' three seasons on Wednesday night.
They did it by withstanding a frantic final 30 minutes as
Seattle tried to get an equalizing goal and force extra time.
And all that came after a breakneck first hour where Seattle
dominant every aspect and had Salt Lake trying to hold on.
It was a complete change from the game played last Saturday in
Utah when Salt Lake controlled every aspect and built what
seemed to be an insurmountable advantage behind two goals from
Alvaro Saborio and one from Ned Grabavoy. That third goal from
Grabavoy, in the 88th minute of a rout, proved to be the winner
in the two-leg aggregate goal semifinal.
"That third one was a monster and it ended up being just that,"
But Salt Lake was vulnerable, playing without central defenders
Jamison Olave and Nat Borchers and that vulnerability was
exploited all night by Seattle.
Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando was peppered with 26 total
shots from Seattle, including nine on goal, but the biggest save
for his team came in the first half and from a defender. Rimando
left his net exposed off a free kick and Tony Beltran headed
Jeff Parke's blast from the top of the penalty area over the
"It happened so fast," Beltran said. "I was able to react in
time and clear it over the goal."
Alonso finally got Seattle on the board with the first home
playoff goal in franchise history - three years in - when he
converted a penalty kick in the 56th minute. Beltran pulled down
Mike Fucito in the penalty area and was given a yellow card for
the foul. Alonso converted the penalty with a shot directly at
Rimando that couldn't be stopped.
Five minutes later Seattle really made things nervous for Salt
Lake when Alonso settled a loose ball outside the penalty area
to Fredy Montero. Seattle's star striker dropped a pass into
space where Neagle ran on and put a left-footed shot across
Rimando's body and just inside the far post.
But for all the furor Neagle's goal caused, Seattle failed to
get a dangerous attempt on net in the final 30 minutes. Their
best shot was an attempt from distance that Neagle couldn't curl
past Rimando. Salt Lake packed in its defense and drained
seconds off the clock at every opportunity.
"It certainly wasn't pretty and it wasn't ideal, but at the same
time, I don't think anyone cares at this point," Salt lake
defender Chris Wingert said.
Already playing without midfield star Mauro Rosales, Seattle was
forced to sub out Alvaro Fernandez and Brad Evans in the first
21 minutes of the match due to injuries. Fernandez left with a
hamstring injury, while Evans had to be helped back to the bench
with a right ankle injury. It left Seattle coach Sigi Schmid
with just one substitute to use in the closing minutes when a
fresh body would have helped.
"It's over. It's been a helluva three years," Keller said. "It's
been an honor to come home and play for something as cool as the
Sounders have become and were from the first minute."
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