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September 12, 2014 at 9:52 PM

First impressions: Sounders 3, Real Salt Lake 2

Andy Rose struck in the final minute of stoppage time as the Sounders earned a dramatic 3-2 victory over ten-man Real Salt Lake on Friday night at CenturyLink Field, following up on first-half goals from Lamar Neagle and Obafemi Martins and a 68th-minute red card to RSL defender Nat Borchers.

Here are my first impressions from an eventful night at CenturyLink:

– This one lived up to the hype

“They come here and try to play,” Real Salt Lake midfielder Kyle Beckerman said in the home locker room at Rio Tinto Stadium in mid-August.

His team had just edged Seattle 2-1, and there was admiration in his voice, a respect echoed throughout Sounders training this week. These are two clubs that bring out the best in each other.

The first- and third-place teams in the Western Conference showed their quality on Friday night.

RSL’s Morales opened the scoring in the 30th minute. Neagle answered eight minutes later, hammering a line drive from well outside the box past a diving Nick Rimando and under the crossbar.

Seattle made it two a few minutes later, when Martins charged onto a Clint Dempsey pass and finished with a chip.

And less than five minutes into the second half, RSL hit back again as Plata sent a swerving shot off a defender and post and in to make it 2-2.

Action flowed from goal to goal, passes flicked from player to player. These are two of MLS’ best, and they showcased why from start to finish.

And it all culminated in the final minute of stoppage time, as DeAndre Yedlin’s redirected cross fell from Rose on the edge of the box. The substitute fired a low shot into the corner, kicking off wild celebrations from the Sounders bench to the upper deck.

– And it was feisty from the start

There was a buzz around CenturyLink even before kickoff, the atmosphere aided both by the late start time and the high stakes.

Both teams went right at each other. Strong tackles from behind characterized the opening stretch of the match, and Neagle picked up a yellow card for a late challenge 25 minutes in.

A more match-defining card came in the 68th, when Borchers tugged down Martins from behind to prevent a clean run on goal and was sent off.

– The strikers shined bright

RSL’s Plata has been one of the most underrated potent scorers in the league this season, and he provided even more evidence to nearly earn Salt Lake a hard-fought point.

The visitors have such attacking depth that they can afford to bring in Alvaro Saborio off the bench.

But the Martins and Dempsey combination, when it’s clicking, can play on a whole different plane.

Though they two have played together for more than a year now, injuries and international duty had prevented the duo from lining up side-by-side against RSL – until Friday.

Martins shook free for a pair of point-blank chances in the first half, one that went crashing off the crossbar and another that Rimando somehow got a strong hand to. And it was his bounding run, of course, that led to the red card.

The red card that set up a frantic finish, the frantic finish that sent Seattle eight points clear of RSL in the Western Conference standings and four clear of the second-place L.A. Galaxy with 54.

| More in First impressions, MLS, Sounders FC

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