SEATTLE — Marco Pappa scored his first goal since last October and the Seattle Sounders jumped into first place.
Pappa scored in the 16th minute to lift the Sounders to a 1-0 win over the Colorado Rapids. Not only does Seattle (7-3-2, 23 points) now lead the Western Conference, it leads the entire MLS, thanks to Portland’s 1-0 win at home late Wednesday against Eastern Conference leader D.C. United (22 points).
The goal was Pappa’s first since last Oct. 25, when he tallied twice in the final five minutes of a 2-0 victory against the Los Angeles Galaxy in the regular-season finale to clinch Seattle’s first Supporters’ Shield.
“I was looking for that goal from the beginning of the season, and I finally scored a goal,” said Pappa, who also has five assists this season. “But I’m more happy that the team got the points and we’re at the top of the table.”
Pappa put the Sounders on the board just as the clock ticked into the 16th minute. A cross into the box from the right side by Seattle’s Cristian Roldan was cleared out. Pappa picked up the loose ball just to the left of the arc, took two steps toward the top of the penalty area, and curled a right-footer around Colorado goalkeeper Clint Irwin and into the back right corner.
“I don’t usually score with my right foot — maybe a couple of goals, but this one felt good, especially my first goal of the season,” Pappa said. “I hope this can be good for my confidence.”
Goalkeeper Stefan Frei earned his league-leading seventh shutout and his third in a row. Seattle has not allowed a goal at home for 380 minutes, dating back to a 3-2 loss to San Jose on March 14. The Sounders have given up a league-low nine goals. They have scored a league-high 19, one more than New England.
“We talked before the game about the fact that if we win this game, we go the top of the table, we’ll be one of the top scoring teams in the league, and if we get a shutout, we’ll be the top defensive team in the league,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said. “Just 12 games in, those are good benchmarks.”
The Rapids (2-3-7) have been blanked in half of their 12 games this season. They actually had more shots than Seattle on Wednesday (16-15), four of which required Frei to make a save.
Colorado’s best chance to equalize came late in the 43rd minute when Irish international Kevin Doyle, playing just his second MLS game after arriving last week from the English Premier League’s Wolverhampton Wanderers, ripped a 30-yard rocket shot on net. Frei stopped it, bobbled the ball, then smothered it just as Rapids forward Luis Solignac arrived in Frei’s 6-yard box.
“It was a game of two halves, really,” Colorado coach Pablo Mastroeni said. “We conceded a world-class goal - it was a great take. We didn’t ever have the confidence to put the ball down on the carpet and play. In the second half, the mentality was much brighter, and the thought to go forwards was more aggressive (with 13 of the 16 shots).
“We found ourselves in some very good spots and had some very good looks at the goal,” Mastroeni added. “Unfortunately, we just ran out of time.”
Seattle has beaten Colorado five straight times, including twice in 2015. The Sounders have more wins against the Rapids (13) than against any other team since joining MLS in 2009.
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