Sounders FC score late for victory over Rapids
SEATTLE - Seattle coach Sigi Schmid recently decided that his most dangerous attacking group was a young Colombian star, an experienced Argentinian professional, a Uruguayan with World Cup experience and a shaggy-haired forward from Portland, Maine.
It looked to be a perfect union on Saturday.
Fredy Montero scored his third goal in two games with a diving header in the 82nd minute, Mauro Rosales scored off a pass from Montero two minutes later and the Seattle Sounders remained unbeaten in their last nine matches with a 4-3 win over the Colorado Rapids.
Seattle rallied twice against the defending MLS Cup champions, getting an early goal from Alvaro Fernandez and Roger Levesque’s goal early in the second half before breaking through for a pair of goals in the final 10 minutes for its sixth victory during the unbeaten streak. Seattle has not lost since May 25 against Dallas.
“It was great that different people scored and different people found themselves in a spot to capitalize,” said Levesque, who scored his third goal of the season in the 48th minute. “That’s just one of the characteristics of this team. It’s not just one person, it’s each day, each moment can be someone else stepping up and contributing and making it work.”
For the second straight game, Seattle scored three times in the second half, putting on an entertaining display in front of a crowd that included Manchester United coach Sir Alex Ferguson. The Sounders will play Man U in an exhibition Wednesday night.
Levesque got Seattle’s rally started when he flicked a cross from Rosales past Colorado goalkeeper Matt Pickens early in the second half. Montero then headed home Brad Evans’ deflected shot to give Seattle the lead, and before Colorado had a chance to react, Rosales sneaked behind the defense and netted his second goal of the season.
“We played very nice football today in the game,” said Rosales. “I think we didn’t going down in the game. We were playing very good in the first half and they were winning the game that they didn’t deserve to. We changed mentality in the second half and we worked for everything. This is the prize. We won.”
Rosales’ goal proved huge as Colorado’s Caleb Forlan scored off a corner kick in the final minute before stoppage time. But the Rapids ran out of opportunities. Colorado got a first-minute goal from Wells Thompson and a goal from Jeff Larentowicz in the 43rd minute, but ultimately couldn’t hold off Seattle’s continuous offensive attack.
It was the first meeting between the clubs since Colorado’s Brian Mullan broke the leg of young Seattle star Steve Zakuani back on April 22 with a viscous tackle. Mullan was originally going to make the trip to Seattle, but Colorado coach Gary Smith changed his mind and left Mullan back in Denver.
Even without Mullan around, there was plenty of pushing and shoving, seeming to discredit both teams saying there would be no lingering effects from what happened in April. There were five yellow cards and plenty of arguments.
But Seattle fans were silent about the Mullan-Zakuani situation other than a chant of “Steve Zakuani” early in the first half and again as the final seconds ticked away.
“Honestly, I thought the game went off really well given some of the circumstances surrounding the fixture,” Smith said. “The fans got behind their team as usual, supported them ever so well. I didn’t sense anything out of the ordinary. One or two challenges slightly late and the grass helped players go to ground a little more than they might do normally.”
The beginning could not have gone much better for the struggling Rapids, who after starting the season with three straight wins are just 3-5-10 since. Just 59 seconds into the match, Thompson collected a poorly cleared cross by Seattle defender Jeff Parke and beat Seattle goalkeeper Kasey Keller to the back post, the quickest goal allowed by Seattle in its three seasons.
Fernandez got Seattle even in the seventh minute before Larentowicz’s goal — and mocking of Seattle’s crowd — to give Colorado the halftime lead.
Along with the loss, Colorado also saw striker Conor Casey leave in the 38th minute after injuring his left calf. Casey limped slowly off the field and even slower to the locker room.
As part of Manchester United’s tour, a temporary grass surface was installed at CenturyLink Field. Both teams struggled with their footing even though the field was covered with a tarp until Saturday morning and only a light rain fell at times during the match.
“Both teams have to play on it whether it’s turf or this type of grass,” Colorado’s Pablo Mastroeni said. “We had two leads in this game, if anything, it helped us out. There were some weird plays some strange bounces, we were on the wrong side of a strange score.”
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