By Karen Watson
SEATTLE – The Sounders extended their unbeaten streak to nine games with an action filled 4-3 win over the defending MLS Cup champion Colorado Rapids and moved within a point of division leaders, the LA Galaxy. After twice fighting back from behind to ultimately earn the victory Seattle coach Sigi Schmid put it best during the post-match press conference, “Who says soccer’s not exciting?”
Colorado fired early with a goal in the 1’ after Sounder Jeff Parke had a poor clearance, sending it straight to Rapids midfielder Wells Thompson who capitalized and drilled it into the far left corner.
The Sounders answered in the 7’ when Uruguayan international Alvaro Fernandez scored after expertly running down and nicking the ball away from defender Kosuke Kimura, sending it in from ten yards out.
Today’s match featured the return of two former Sounders, Tyrone Marshall and Sanna Nyassi who was a late pre-match substitution for Jamie Smith, replaced due to a hamstring strain. Brian Mullan, whose reckless tackle resulted in a broken leg for Steve Zakuani earlier this season, was noticeably absent from today’s line up. Looking to avenge their teammate’s misfortune with a win, the Sounders played with purpose and intensity.
Referee Edvin Jurisevic was certainly kept busy during the match by both teams, which ended in a lengthy misconduct summary with a total of eighteen fouls and five yellow cards. “I think the game got a little chippy at times but that’s part of it. I think everyone kept their emotions I check I don’t think anyone was trying to settle the score,” commented Schmid.
The Rapids pulled ahead in the 42’ when Thompson tapped the ball over to midfielder Jeff Larentowicz who hit it zig zagging off the far post and behind Keller into the back corner.
Not about to be bested, the Sounders evened things up just after the start of the second half in the 48’. Mauro Rosales took the ball wide and then lofted it across to forward Roger Levesque who while colliding with a Rapids defender still managed to make the slightest contact with ball, sending it past stunned goalkeeper Matt Pickens and into the net.
Still tied going into the final ten minutes, the Sounders went one up in the 83’ when Fredy Montero scored on a diving header after Pickens deflected a cross from Brad Evans. Montero has been on a tear lately, scoring four times in the last week with his free kick against Portland up for Goal of the Week.
Within seconds Mauro Rosales left Pickens looking as he calmly picked up a pass from Montero and without hesitation put the ball into the back of the net in the 84’.
But the Sounders perfect day was about to be somewhat spoiled as they gave up a late goal in the 90’. Goalkeeper Kasey Keller showed his extreme displeasure after Seattle failed to clear a Rapids’ corner and the visitors were able to pull within one on a goal from Caleb Folan.
The home side was able to hang on however and as the match wound down, the home crowd of 36,424 sent off the visitors to a chant of “Steve Zakuani, Steve Zakuani, Steve Zakuani.”
Next the Sounders face English Premier League Champions Manchester United in a friendly on Wednesday at home. Manager Sir Alex Ferguson was in attendance today watching from the press box. Seattle’s Schmid said that he and the team are greatly looking forward to a great exhibition of football, further adding “I think this will be different experience for Manchester United. They have played against MLS teams before but this will be the first time in a stadium filled with 60,000 plus that most of them will be in support of the Sounders. We will see red shirts of course, but also a lot of green.”