As Wednesday’s match dragged on, a Sounders player wouldn’t be faulted for thinking about the benefits of a goalless draw.

The altitude and a fast-paced Colorado Rapids side is a tough combo to counter. It’s part of the reason why Colorado has only lost once at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park this season.

But it was the home side that needed a win to control their postseason chances. When the clock ticked to the hour mark and the match was goalless, Seattle, which already qualified and is first in the West, could be pleased with a shutout and keeping Colorado third in the standings.

A fleeting thought that took a tense stretch in order to be a positive for the Sounders. Seattle used a late equalizer for a 1-1 draw against Colorado.

“I’ve gone on record to say that a tie is like a loss, I’ve said that quite a few times,” Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer said. “This one feels a little different because we went behind against a really well-coached, good team. The guys fought back. … This was a critical point for us both in the standings but up here (mentally) probably more so than a singular point.”

In the 66th minute, Colorado midfielder Jack Price lobbed a cross into the box off a corner kick that forward Dominique Badji headed into goal. Badji was sandwiched by Sounders defenders Yeimar Gomez Andrade and Nouhou but neither could intercept the assist.

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Schmetzer began his substitutions in the 69th minute. He put winger Leo Chu on for midfielder Jimmy Medranda in the 75th minute and the Brazilian, who was signed in August, made an immediate impact from his preferred position on the field.

Chu took on two defenders to get control of the ball in the box in the 80th minute. He dribbled wide to swipe a left-footed cross to a racing midfielder Cristian Roldan and forward Fredy Montero.

There was a mess in front of goal that resulted in a tap-in score. Roldan was credited the goal, his fifth in his past six matches with the Sounders through all competitions.

“It was definitely my goal,” Roldan said afterward. “We joke around with whoever celebrated the hardest, it shows who scored the goal and I was just joking around with Fredy in the locker room about that – him trying to take my goal.

“Leo with great patience in getting behind. I thought initially he was going to take one touch and cross the ball. The hesitation allowed two runners into the box – myself and Fredy ….it’s difficult to come into a game like that and Leo Chu did such a fantastic job with it.”

Colorado (14-6-10) needed a win in order to clinch a postseason berth but Wednesday could also be viewed as a positive for the Rapids, too. The last meeting was a 3-0 shutout at Lumen Field earlier this month where midfielder Joao Paulo outworked the Rapids defense for a solo goal that’s contending for the best of the year globally.

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Wednesday’s draw secured the Sounders (17-6-7) a top-four slot in the Western Conference playoff bracket.

Seattle had a few near-chances in the opening half. Montero saw a clever shot float into goal with Rapids keeper William Yarbrough off his line in the 20th minute. The goal was waived off because Montero was offside when he started his run.

Montero had three other legit opportunities to score in the half but Yarbrough saved one, a header missed at the mouth of goal and a surefire shot was snuffed out by teammate Xavier Arreaga.

The pair expressed their frustrations with each other, and the teams ended the half goalless.

“We’re happy with a point,” Roldan said. “We felt that we were creating enough (to score first) and then their goal happened. That’s when the circumstances changed, then you’re happy with a point. But initially, we thought there were three points to be gained.”

Seattle’s most formidable defensive line was selected to start against the Rapids. Yeimar flanked Arreaga on the right side, missing the loss in Houston due to yellow card accumulation. Nouhou was back on the left. The Cameroonian hasn’t been a consistent starter lately due to national team duty and adductor injury.

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But most of the spice came from the crowd. The match was the return of midfielder Nico Benezet, who was vocal about not enjoying his stint with the Rapids. He started once in his 11 matches with the club this season and was traded to Seattle at the close of the summer window in August.

“I would celebrate for sure,” Benezet told MLSsoccer.com of scoring. “I can’t wait to play in that stadium in front of my ex-fans and in front of the guy who didn’t believe in me. So, I can’t wait.”

During the television broadcast of the game, fans seemed to boo when Benezet had possession of ball. The Frenchman had one shot in his 69 minutes of play.

The Sounders continue their final condensed stretch of the season with a match against Sporting Kansas City on Saturday at Lumen Field. SKC (15-7-7) is challenging Seattle for first in the West. The Sounders lead with 58 points to the Wizards’ 52 but SKC has a game in hand.

“It can certainly get complicated,” Roldan said of Saturday’s game. “They’ll come prepared and we’ll need to be prepared for a battle.”

Schmetzer is expecting the return of striker Raul Ruidiaz from international duty. The Peruvian suffered a left hamstring injury against San Jose in September and extended his stay with his national team to receive more treatment.

Ruidiaz will be evaluated when he joins the Sounders and it will be determined if he can be available for selection against SKC.  

“We dug this one out,” Sounders right wingback Alex Roldan told the television broadcast crew. “It wasn’t a pretty game at times but at this stage of the season, we’re happy with a point and moving forward with first place still in the standings and separating ourselves from them is a big thing.”