[MLS CUP PLAYOFFS: REAL SALT LAKE-SEATTLE] Through four-plus games in the regular season and playoffs, the Seattle Sounders could not score on Real Salt Lake,
and it did not look like they'd ever beat Nick Rimando, as spectacular at home as he was in Seattle in the first leg. But young Honduran Mario Martinez, making his first MLS start, finally found a way to beat Rimando with his first MLS goal, a spectacular volley in the 81st minute, and sent the
Sounders into the Western Conference final for the first time with a 1-0 win.
-- Martinez, a Honduran international, was acquired on loan from Real Espana on Aug. 1 but had played only 40 minutes in three regular-season appearances for the Sounders. He was starting in place of injured captain Mauro Rosales and nearly scored in the 31st minute when he bent a free kick around the wall that Rimando tipped off the crossbar.
-- On the winning goal, Fredy Montero chipped a delicate ball over the RSL backline to Martinez on the left side, and the Honduran hit a screamer on a volley insider the far post. It was just the fourth playoff goal in Sounders' history and also ended a 390-minute scoreless drought between Seattle and Salt Lake.
-- Rimando, who had four spectacular saves in the 0-0 tie in the first leg, had continued to frustrate the Sounders in the second leg. In the 46th minute, Christian Tiffert found Brad Evans, whose shot seemed headed for the goal but Rimando dove to his left to make a brilliant one-handed save.
-- Sounders goalkeeper Michael Gspurning came up big with nine saves -- a season-high. The Austrian giant held off a late RSL assault, swatting an Alvaro Saborio header over the crossbar in the 90th minute.
-- Seattle advanced in the MLS Cup playoffs for the first time in the club's four-year history and won only its second ever playoff game.
-- Seattle and RSL played five games in 2012. The teams finished tied at 1-1-3, with just one goal scored by either team.
Nov. 8 in Sandy, Utah
Real Salt Lake 0 Seattle 1. Goal: Martinez (Montero) 81.
Seattle -- Gspurning, Parke, Johansson, Burch, Hurtado, Alonso, Tiffert (Rose, 73), Evans, Martinez (Scott, 87), Johnson, Montero (Estrada, 89).
Real Salt Lake -- Rimando, Olave, Beltran (Gil, 85), Borchers, Johnson, Morales, Grabavoy, Mansally (Steele, 86), Beckerman, Paulo Jr. (Espindola, 58), Saborio.
Referee: Chris Penso.