Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Sounders end their drought, defeat the Rapids 2-1

By Money Mike

The Seattle Sounders finally got a win that they desperately needed. Saturday night, a crowd of 39,060 at CenturyLink Field saw first hand, the return of their fan favorite Steve Zakuani who made his first appearance since April 23, 2011 when he suffered a fractured leg and more importantly, the Sounders bringing an end to their nine game winless run. The Sounders got their first win since May 9th as they defeated the Colorado Rapids 2-1 to improve to 8-5-6 (30 points). Keep in mind, the Sounders have been a great second half team these past couple of seasons.

The Sounders had all the possession early on and they nearly made it count in the 8th minute. Eddie Johnson played a brilliant high lofting ball to the left side for Alvaro Fernandez. Flaco brought the ball down off his chest cleanly and he was in a good position to hit it with his left foot, but he decided to cut the ball to his right foot and try to curl his shot to the far corner and it was saved by Matt Pickens after it took a bit of a deflection.

Two minutes later, they had another opportunity. Marvell Wynne gave the ball straight away to Mauro Rosales in his own area. Rosales waiting for an overlap from Eddie Johnson before playing it to him. Johnson was forced into a tight angle and tried to sneak the ball inside the near post, but Pickens again tipped it wide for a corner.

The Sounders continued to dominate this match and they came close again in the 14th minute, but not close enough. After a give and go with Alvaro Fernandez, Marc Burch went long for Eddie Johnson who brought the ball down at the top of the penalty area and tried to put it away with a half volley, but he took about a second too long and fired his shot wide of Pickens's left hand side.

The Rapids didn't have a real opportunity until the 24th minute. Ozzie Alonso gave the ball away in his own area to Conor Casey. Support came from Jamie Smith and Martin Rivero. Casey fed Rivero on the near side for a first timed shot that hit the side of the net.

Colorado didn't have anymore real opportunities in the first to take the lead. The Sounders continued to pour men forward and put all the pressure on the opposition in their half of the field and wear down the back four. In the 35th minute, the Rave Green nearly came up with something out of nothing. Jamie Smith was dispossessed in his own area by Adam Johansson. He was looking for a free kick, but there was definitely not enough contact for it to be a free kick. Alonso poked the ball back to Johansson who had time to look for options. The Swedish international decided to whip in a cross to the far post. Right there was Alvaro Fernandez for a looping header which looked at first like it didn't have a chance, but in the end, it was just a fraction too high.

In the 51st minute, Mauro Rosales whipped in another dangerous ball, this time off a free kick, intended for Alvaro Fernandez but the ball bounced towards goal and Matt Pickens had to be alert and tip the ball wide for another Sounders corner kick. Seconds later, off the corner kick, the Sounders would find the break through. Mauro Rosales's outswinger found a wide open Alvaro Fernandez who's header skipped underneath Matt Pickens and in for his first league goal of the 2012 season and the Sounders took a 1-0 lead.

The Rapids looked to hit back a couple minutes later. Jeff Larentowicz had time and space from about 30 yards away and he decided to give it a go and Bryan Meredith had to do everything he can to punch the ball away. In case anybody didn't even notice on that shot, there was quite a bit of movement on the ball.

In the 64th minute, the Sounders doubled their lead off another set piece. Mauro Rosales took the corner kick again, this time an inswinger from the far side, toward the near post and Matt Pickens was trying to go up and gather the ball but his teammate Drew Moor got in his way so he punched the ball instead, but not out of danger. Andy Rose was looking to head the ball back across for Fernandez, but Jeff Larentowicz got in the way to head the ball, but he headed the ball straight to Patrick Ianni. Ianni poked the ball out wide to Rosales who curled the ball back in toward the far post and right there to head the ball in for his eighth goal of the season was Eddie Johnson who was left wide open and Matt Pickens had no chance of stopping that one.

With just over 10 minutes to go in the match, the Rapids pulled a goal back. After Alex Caskey gave the ball away in his own area, the Rapids re-grouped. Jaime Castrillon fed the ball to Luis Zepata on the near side. Zepata took one touch and it looked like he was gonna try one from distance, but he went for the cross to the far post and found Omar Cummings who made a good run toward the far post and he put the ball away with a half volley to cut the Sounders lead in half. This one was on Patrick Ianni because he didn't pay attention to Cummings when he made that run.

Five minutes later, the Rapids thought they equalised, but the officials didn't think so. The Sounders had difficulties clearing the ball away. The ball fell to Jeff Larentowicz, who dribbled around Alex Caskey and sent in a ball to the far post and it snuck in, but the offside flag went up because the linesman claimed that Omar Cummings got a touch to it. I've been looking at the replay over and over again and it looked to me like Cummings did get a foot on the ball and he was in an offside position when Larentowicz played the ball in.

Seconds later, you could hear the roar from a mile away which meant only one thing, the return of Steve Zakuani. The no. 1 overall draft pick from 2009, Steve Zakuani came on in the 85th minute as he made his long awaited return since April 23 of last year when he suffered a fractured tibia and fibula following a dangerous two footed challenge from Brian Mullan. Having him back is really big for this team as the season progresses. Remember this past offseason, Sigi Schmid didn't expect him to be back until late 2012 if not the 2013 season, but I didn't buy that, I thought he was gonna come back sooner and now he's back. So now what's next for Zak? It's simple, work his way back into the starting 11. He did get a few touches late in the match which is good.

In the final seconds of stoppage time, the Sounders nearly let another one slip away. Tony Cascio played in a low left footed ball to the near post which got away from Omar Cummings. The ball fell to Castrillon, who played the ball back to the top of the area for a first timed shot from Martin Rivero and it just flew over the bar. After going nine games without a win, the last thing the Sounders want is to blow a two goal lead late and have their winless run extended to 10 games, but the Sounders were able to hang on and win 2-1.

Scoring summary:

Seattle Sounders FC - Alvaro Fernandez 1 (Mauro Rosales 5) 52'

Seattle Sounders FC - Eddie Johnson 8 (Mauro Rosales 6) 64'

Colorado Rapids - Omar Cummings 4 (Luis Zapata 1) 79'

Misconduct summary:

Colorado Rapids - Martin Rivero (caution; foul) 41'

Seattle Sounders FC - Eddie Johnson (caution; excessive celebration) 64'


Colorado Rapids - Matt Pickens; Hunter Freeman, Marvell Wynne, Drew Moor, Luis Zapata; Brian Mullan, Martin Rivero, Jeff Larentowicz, Jamie Castrillon (Tony Cascio 84'), Jamie Smith (Omar Cummings 67'); Conor Casey (Edu 67')

Seattle Sounders FC - Bryan Meredith; Adam Johansson, Jeff Parke, Patrick Ianni, Marc Burch; Alex Caskey, Osvaldo Alonso, Andy Rose, Alvaro Fernandez (Cordell Cato 81'); Mauro Rosales (Steve Zakuani 85'), Eddie Johnson (Fredy Montero 72')

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