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Servando Carrasco, Bryan Meredith step up for Sounders FC
Two 2011 draft picks, Servando Carrasco and Bryan Meredith, stepped into the starting lineup Wednesday to help lead the Sounders to a shutout against Real Salt Lake
Seattle Times staff reporter
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SANDY, Utah — Two young Sounders found themselves in the starting lineup for one of the season's most difficult tests Wednesday — a road game against perennial MLS power Real Salt Lake.
Defensive midfielder Servando Carrasco filled in for suspended star Osvaldo Alonso.
Goalkeeper Bryan Meredith jumped to No. 1 on the depth chart after last week's injury to Andrew Weber.
But while the circumstances that led to the increased roles for Carrasco and Meredith may have been out of their hands, the duo — drafted two picks apart in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft — made the most of the opportunity by playing vital parts in the 0-0 tie.
Both got positive reviews from coach Sigi Schmid after Seattle's first shutout since May 9.
On Carrasco: "I thought he came in and he did what he needed to do. He sat in the hole really well. I thought he did a pretty good job on (RSL playmaker Javier) Morales. Overall, I thought he was good."
On Meredith: "He was pretty safe and solid on all things. (There was) just that one cross at the end that he sort of flew past and missed, but outside of that I thought he was solid and confident."
Carrasco started seven MLS games last season as a rookie, but had only one this year before Wednesday — and that was in March. Schmid said the midfielder's sophomore campaign started slowly, but has improved lately.
Getting minutes behind Alonso, the Sounders' two-time team MVP, isn't easy, but Carrasco said he benefited by getting 90 minutes in last week's win in a U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal against San Jose.
"It kept me fresh, it kept me moving, and it kept me focused," he said. "I knew that I was going to get a chance to play given the fact that Ozzie had his suspension. You always have to be ready to step in."
Meredith saw extended playing time from early May into June when starter Michael Gspurning went out with a hip injury and Weber was recovering from a high ankle sprain. Meredith started seven straight games, and went 274 minutes before allowing his first goal, but was eventually benched June 20 as his performances took a downward turn.
Injury led to opportunity again, this time when Weber suffered a groin strain Saturday in New England.
"Unfortunate luck for some people and fortunate for me," said Meredith, who made two saves Wednesday in his third shutout. "I think it gave me a chance to prove myself, and this opportunity, rather than the last, is a little more important because I know they have an expectation of me now and they know how I can play, so they want me to exceed that expectation every single game."
Refs help Seattle
The Sounders were hindered by a missed offside call Saturday against the Revolution, but they were the beneficiaries of a similar situation Wednesday.
Real Salt Lake's Alvaro Saborio appeared to score a go-ahead goal in the 52nd minute, but the play was disallowed when an assistant referee judged the forward was offside. Replays showed Saborio was in fact level with Seattle defender Zach Scott when the cross was played into the penalty box, meaning the goal should have counted.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @joshuamayers