July 8, 2012 in Sports

Sounders end winless streak by holding back Rapids

Joshua Mayers Seattle Times

SEATTLE – On one special night, Sounders FC ended two long waits. Seattle first ended a franchise-worst winless streak at nine games with a 2-1 home win against the Colorado Rapids. More important, the team also saw the much-anticipated return of midfielder Steve Zakuani, who suffered a broken leg in a road game last April against – perhaps poetically – the Rapids.

The emotional comeback after more than 14 months came in the 86th minute when Zakuani replaced midfielder Mauro Rosales. Zakuani received a rousing ovation from the 39,060 at CenturyLink Field.

Teammates clapped. As did Rapids midfielder Brian Mullan, who made the reckless tackle last year that broke Zakuani’s leg (the two would later exchange jerseys after the game).

The fans had more to cheer about with the result. The Sounders (8-5-6) opened the scoring in the 52nd minute when midfielder Alvaro Fernandez rose high to head in a corner kick from Rosales for Fernandez’s first goal of the season. In celebration, Fernandez leaped over the video-boards behind the goal into the open arms of teammate Fredy Montero, who started the game on the bench.

Seattle hadn’t scored the first goal in an MLS game since May 9 and improved to 8-0-0 this season when scoring first. Fernandez had a great chance to double the lead in the 54th minute but hit a shot wide on a breakaway. Five minutes later, the Sounders were irate with referee Kevin Stott when a penalty kick wasn’t called on an apparent foul on Eddie Johnson, but the Seattle forward took matters into his own hands in the 64th minute by heading in a Rosales cross to make it 2-0.Colorado (7-10-1) pulled a goal back in the 79th minute, when Omar Cummings finished a cross. The Rapids appeared to have an 85th-minute equalizer when midfielder Jeff Larentowicz’s long shot sneaked in, but the offside flag was up.

Seattle improved to 6-1-1 against Colorado, 5-0 at home. The Sounders controlled action in the first half.

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