The Colorado Rapids came into CenturyLink Field with loads of pride in a defense that allowed less than a goal per game, having earned a shutout every other time they took the field.
Consider Saturday’s 4-1 loss to Sounders FC, then, a humbling experience.
“For the better part of six games, we were a really good defensive team,” said Rapids coach Pablo Mastroeni, “but after receiving two or three goals, you begin to doubt your ability as a player. That was the disappointing part.”
When it comes to recent victims of Seattle’s offense, Colorado can get in line.
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The Sounders have matched a team record with 13 goals in their past four games and tied for the MLS lead with 18 on the season. And while Clint Dempsey is at the forefront of a dynamic attack with a league-high eight goals, don’t discount the efforts of fellow designated player Obafemi Martins, whose influence is all over Seattle’s rise to the top of the standings.
Coach Sigi Schmid, when asked if the duo is the best in the league, said the production — 11 goals and seven assists, combined — doesn’t lie.
“People could make a case for Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan (in Los Angeles), and those guys together are pretty good,” Schmid said, “but right now Dempsey and Martins are as good as it gets in our league.”
Mastroeni lamented: “Martins and Dempsey really caused us a bit of grief.”
Dempsey said his success has been based on the play of those around him, with players like Federal Way’s Lamar Neagle (three goals, three assists) and Gonzalo Pineda (three assists) among many others chipping in.
“I think having that mix of play allows you to pick teams apart,” Dempsey said. “If you’re going to be successful, you have to have multiple dimensions to your game.”
Thirteen shots on goal by the Sounders on Saturday set a team record. Colorado goalkeeper Clint Irwin made nine saves, the most ever against Seattle.
Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei has seen that all too well on the practice field, joking that “it’s hard to get confidence” going up against the likes of Dempsey and Martins every day.
“It’s really good to have them on my side come Saturdays,” Frei said.
• Sounders FC’s three-game homestand continues May 3 against Philadelphia.
• Colorado was without midfielder Dillon Powers, the reigning MLS Rookie of the Year, due to leg soreness.