SEATTLE — Kevin Doyle could barely find his breath in his first month with the Colorado Rapids.
On Saturday night, Doyle found just enough breathing room around Seattle’s defense for a winning goal.
Doyle scored on a counterattack in the 84th minute, boosting Colorado past the Sounders, 1-0.
The Rapids (5-6-9, 24 points) not only won their third straight game, they came away from Seattle with a victory for the first time since the Sounders joined Major League Soccer in 2009. Colorado had been 0-8-1 at CenturyLink Field.
“It was nice to come here and score with a few minutes to go because we didn’t have to hold them for very long,” said Doyle, the Irish international who joined the Rapids in March. “It was a fair enough game. Both teams had chances, and we took (advantage of) one of them.”
The Rapids had not won three in a row since 2011.
Jared Watts started the scoring play by sending a long ball up the field. Doyle caught up with it and got just enough space around Sounders defender Zach Scott to send a shot from inside the top left of the penalty area bouncing into the far side of the net.
Doyle’s goal was his second of the season. But he figures more could be coming now that he has gotten used to his new surroundings — and Colorado’s thinner air.
“It takes a few weeks to adjust in Colorado,” he said. “The altitude, I have no problem with it now. But for the first month, it was very difficult. I couldn’t get going at all, but I feel like I’m settling in it now.”
At the start of July, the Rapids were buried deep in the Western Conference basement with just two wins and 15 points.
“It would have been so easy for these guys to lay down halfway through the season with only two wins and say, ‘We’re done,”’ Rapids coach Pablo Mastroeni said. “Even when things aren’t going your way, you find a way to fight.
“This is a process, it’s a relatively new group,” Mastroeni added. “We’ve taken our lumps along the way, but none of those losses were in vain. We’ve learned from it, the fine details have been improved, and these guys want to work.”
The Sounders (10-9-2, 32 points) lost for the fifth time in six games, and have been shut out in four of those. The last two defeats have come late. Chicago beat Seattle 1-0 with a goal in second-half stoppage time last Saturday.
“You keep driving and keep pushing on,” said goalkeeper Troy Perkins, who got his second straight start in place of injured Stefan Frei. “If you start questioning yourself, it gets worse. We have to take it for what it’s worth. It’s a loss, but it’s not the end of the world. We’ve still got points in the bank and we’re in a good spot. Like I said to a couple others, I’d rather have it now than come September or October.”
Rapids goalkeeper Clint Irwin made three saves to pick up his seventh shutout of the year. One of those saves came just 33 seconds into the game when he leaped to get a fingertip deflection over the top of a hard shot that Seattle forward Thomas took from the top of the box.
“On the road, those are the types of saves you know you’re going to have to come up with for the team to win,” Irwin said.
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