Seattle • In a game featuring spectacular performances by the goalkeepers, Real Salt Lake and Seattle fought to a 0-0 standoff at halftime of their Major League Soccer playoff game Friday night at CenturyLink Field.
RSL’s Nick Rimando and the Sounders’ Michael Gspurning prevented their team from falling behind in the opener of the two-game aggregate series on a cool, rainy night in Seattle.
In the fifth minute, Real Salt Lake got its first good look at the goal when Javier Morales found himself in space at the top of the penalty area.
The RSL forward turned and fired, but the shot was blocked by the defense without getting to Gspurning.
The Sounders controlled the play and enjoyed a distinct territorial advantage for the next 15 minutes -- until Ned Grabavoy nearly had a chance to score.
He got behind the defense but, in a race to the ball with Gspurning, Grabavoy lost by a half-step and the game remained scoreless.
In the 25th minute, the Sounders’ Brad Evans had the game’s best opportunity to score to that point when found himself one-on-one from the right angle with Rimando.
The RSL keeper stood his ground, however, and knocked away Evans’ shot.
Amazingly, the stop was only the beginning for Rimando.
In the 33rd minute, he made two spectacular saves on consecutive attacks by the Sounders.
First, Rimando denied Sammy Ochoa, who put a header on target from 12 yards away.
Off the ensuing corner kick, Seattle’s Jhon Kennedy Hurtado directed another header toward Rimando, who made an acrobatic save.
The scoring chances continued in the 38th minute when Real Salt Lake’s Will Johnson fired a rocket that appeared headed for the upper corner, just inside the near post.
Somehow, Gspurning got the ball and punched it over the goal to deny Johnson.