Axel Sjoberg scored the game's only goal in the 43rd minute as the Colorado Rapids defeated the Sounders 1-0 on Saturday night in front of 41,028 at CenturyLink Field.
Axel Sjoberg scored the game’s only goal in the 43rd minute as the Colorado Rapids defeated the Sounders 1-0 on Saturday night in front of 41,028 at CenturyLink Field.
These are my first impressions:
– Colorado forces opponents to be mistake-free, and three of them led to the goal.
First, Sounders defender Brad Evans got his pocket picked in his own defensive half by Kevin Doyle. Then, though Evans’ hustle appeared to force Doyle to play the ball over the end line himself, the Rapids were awarded a corner kick.
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Finally, and most crucially of all, Seattle inexplicably lost track of the tallest player on the field, and 6-foot-7 Sjoberg duly headed Marc Burch’s corner kick inside the left post.
This was a comprehensive, 90-minute demonstration of why Colorado is atop the Supporters’ Shield standings.
The Rapids soaked up pressure and kept their shape. They were unspectacular going forward but hard to break down at the back. They make teams beat themselves, and two minutes before halftime, the Sounders (with an assist from the referees) obliged.
– In a phrase that is quickly coming to define this season, it wasn’t Seattle’s night.
The Sounders did plenty of things well on Saturday night except for the most important.
They controlled the ball – 62 percent of the possession in the first half – and had far more clear-cut scoring chances than their opponents did. Despite missing Chad Marshall, out with a right hamstring strain, the defense was mostly composed and steady. They took twice as many shots at Colorado and won 10 corner kicks.
They did all of that … and lost.
In a five-minute span midway through the second half, Jordan Morris fired a left-footed shot just wide and blasted a good look over the bar, and Clint Dempsey’s goal-bound header was cleared off the line by Burch.
It just wasn’t the Sounders’ night, as has been the case for pretty much the entirety of this young season.
– The coming three-game East Coast road trip looks all the more daunting now.
This was about as high stakes as a May MLS game against a non-rival gets. Ahead of a three-game road trip and the Copa America Centenario that will whisk away forwards Dempsey and Nelson Valdez, the Sounders were in desperate need of home points.
And from the pregame Military Appreciation ceremony through occasionally tedious 90 minutes, CenturyLink Field was buzzing and loud. This remains one of the seminal venues in MLS, and Saturday provided a timely reminder. For its final Sounders match until June 25, CenturyLink rose to the occasion – even if the home team struggled to make a similar leap.
Seattle now sits 14 points back of first-place Colorado in the Western Conference and plays four of its next five matches on the road.