Sounders get Real in Desert Diamond Cup
Caskey goal for Seattle defeats Salt Lake
With many of their usual offensive weapons being given a rest, it fell to first year player Alex Caskey to give the Seattle Sounders the victory over Real Salt Lake in Saturday night's Desert Diamond Cup final.
The usual Sounders starting line-up played 90 minutes on Friday night against Veracruz. This meant that coach Siggi Schmid put in a line-up of newer and bench players against an RSL side that included Kyle Beckerman, Álvaro Saborío and Robbie Findley.
Call it a test of depth, one that the team passed.
"I thought the guys played great. It shows the depth of our team," said Schmid. "We were playing with three rookies in the back four... I thought they were solid."
The first half tested Seattle's back-up keeper Marcus Hahnemann. The 40-year-old stopped shots from Sebastián Velásquez, Saborío and Beckerman. He didn't smother the shots like he used to (Saborío's was off of a rebound) but RSL was unable to capitalize on those small opportunities.
Shortly after half time, Caskey did a quick cut back that so confused RSL's Chris Schuler that he slipped on the grass. Caskey took that few seconds he was given and left-footed the ball past Nick Rimando. Schuler's face read exasperation as he slowly got up from the ground as Seattle celebrated their lead.
Lamar Neagle, who the team recently traded back for after a year with the Montreal Impact, nearly doubled the lead minutes later, but Rimando was able to save his shot.
Seattle held on to their narrow lead and ended the match 1-0.
Real Salt Lake opens their season on March 3 against the San Jose Earthquakes. Seattle faces another test of their depth with two games next week: at home against Montreal on March 2 and off to Monterrey to face Mexican club UANL Tigres to open the next round of the CONCACAF Champions League.
Even RSL admitted that their back line made more than a few mistakes, but Schmid credited his backup players with being able to take advantage. Particularly the goal-scorer, Alex Caskey.
"He might give away a few balls, then he'll do something that will impact the game," Schmid said of Caskey. "He did it the other night with the first goal against New York, and he did it tonight where he just cut Schuler in the box and just hit a great shot."
This will be Caskey's second year with the club, after spending a season with the third division Charleston Battery.