Steve Zakuani scores two goals in Seattle's win over Colorado. In the MLS debut of Blaise Nkufo, Sounders FC puts together its first winning streak of the season.
With most of the attention on Blaise Nkufo’s Major League Soccer debut, it was another Congolese-born star for Seattle that shined brightest Sunday night.
Steve Zakuani scored twice in the first 17 minutes, upping his team-high goal total to seven, to lead Sounders FC to a 2-1 win against Colorado and its first victory against a Western Conference opponent in front of 36,333 fans at Qwest Field.
Seattle, which came into the game 0-5-4 against the West, survived a strong second-half push from the visitors to make up some much-needed ground in the league standings.
“I think the team showed a lot of grit and determination,” said coach Sigi Schmid, whose team has won two straight MLS games for the first time this year. “We need to get points and sometimes that means rolling up your sleeve, and the team certainly did that.”
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Sounders FC (6-8-4) struck first in the eighth minute when Zakuani gathered a loose ball after a scramble in the Colorado penalty box and fired a shot off the post that bounced off Rapids goalkeeper Matt Pickens into the net.
“It was a bit of ping-pong in the box and the ball fell to me,” Zakuani said. “It was about getting a quick release and I did. I maybe got a bit lucky, it came off his back, but I take it as it comes.”
Schmid said it wasn’t a beautiful piece of work, but “we also need to score some goals where we just scrap for them, and that’s something we haven’t always been getting.”
Colorado, which is 0-48-16 in the last four seasons after conceding the first goal, responded immediately when midfielder Omar Cummings made a move 20 yards from Sounders FC’s goal and fired a rocket shot with his left foot past goalkeeper Kasey Keller for a stunning equalizer.
Seattle fired right back in the 17th minute when Fredy Montero lofted a perfect pass behind the Rapids defense to speedy midfielder Sanna Nyassi, who sent a cross in front of the net to Zakuani for a tap-in goal.
“It was definitely important for us to come back quickly,” said Montero through a translator.
Montero’s assist marked the seventh straight game the Colombian forward has factored in a Sounders FC goal.
As Colorado (6-5-5) pushed late in the game, the Sounders backline and Keller stood strong to preserve the win, including a reaction save by the goalkeeper on Jamie Smith’s back-heel shot in front of the goal in the 62nd minute. Earlier in the game, the 40-year-old had a highlight-reel stop to push a Conor Casey header over the cross bar.
In the Sounders’ first game since announcing star midfielder Freddie Ljungberg will explore options to leave the team, Seattle earned its first home win since a 3-0 trouncing of New England on June 5.
“I think maybe eight games ago we would have drawn that game 2-2,” said Keller, who had three saves. “I think it shows that the steps are being made and the team is coming around.”
• Seattle defender Leo Gonzalez was suspended Sunday due to yellow-card accumulation. He was replaced by Zach Scott, whose two starts this season have been in place of suspended Sounders.
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SOUNDERS FC 2, RAPIDS 1
|Colorado||1 0 — 1|
|Seattle||2 0 — 2|
First half — 1, Seattle, Zakuani 7, 8th minute. 2, Colorado, Cummings 5, 9th. 3, Seattle, Zakuani 6 (Nyassi, Montero), 17th. Second half — None. Goalies — Colorado, Matt Pickens; Seattle, Kasey Keller. Shots — Colorado 15, Seattle 8. Shots on goal — Colorado 4, Seattle 5. Saves — Colorado 3, Seattle 3. Fouls — Colorado 12, Seattle 12. Corner kicks — Colorado 2, Seattle 5. Offsides — Colorado 2, Seattle 3. Yellow cards — Scott, Seattle, 28th; Smith, Colorado, 58th; Alonso, Seattle, 90th. Referee — Yader Reyes. Assistant referees — Chris Strickland. Kermit Quisenberry. 4th official — Landis Wiley. A — 36,333 (32,400).
Colorado — Matt Pickens, Julien Baudet, Drew Moor, Danny Earls (Kosuke Kimura, 65th), Marvell Wynne, Jamie Smith (Claudio Lopez, 65th), Jeff Larentowicz, Pablo Mastroeni, Mehdi Ballouchy (Quincy Amarikwa, 77th), Conor Casey, Omar Cummings.
Seattle — Kasey Keller, James Riley, Patrick Ianni, Jeff Parke, Nathan Sturgis (Mike Seamon, 74th), Zach Scott, Steve Zakuani, Osvaldo Alonso, Sanna Nyassi (Roger Levesque, 81st), Fredy Montero, Blaise Nkufo (Nate Jaqua, 70th).