Marco Pappa netted his first goal of the season and the Sounders took over first place in the Western Conference with a 1-0 win over the Colorado Rapids on Wednesday night at CenturyLink Field.
These are my first impressions:
– Marco Pappa was on his game.
Pappa’s opening goal was an impressive piece of skill – all the more notable because his strike was with his off foot. Cristian Roldan helped spark the chance with a dangerous low cross from the right wing, and it pinged around the box before settling at the opposite winger’s foot.
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Pappa took a touch, looked up to assess his options. Then he cut inside and curled a right-footed shot over the massed Colorado defense and inside the right post.
Pappa abused Michael Harrington on the wing throughout the first half, even throwing in some stepovers for good measure. He nearly added a second goal on the other side of halftime, combining on a give-and-go with Clint Dempsey that sliced just wide of the far post.
– Colorado isn’t very good.
The Rapids are defensively disciplined and can be hard to break down. There’s a reason why they entered the night tied with the Sounders for the fewest goals allowed in the league. Colorado is hard-nosed and stubborn and persistent.
Dillon Powers is a very promising midfielder prospect, and for much of Wednesday night, he was very good. The rest of his team was not.
The Rapids could barely keep the ball and didn’t muster much of a threat even when they did. They managed just 24 percent of the possession in the opening 45 minutes.
Their most notable attack of the first half came on the counter, when Luis Solignac was played in alone behind the Sounders back line. Solignac nearly tripped over the ball trying to cut back, and the surge ended with a through ball to no one. Early in the second half, Colorado earned a promising free kick at the top of Seattle’s box – and substitute Juan Ramirez sent it into the wall.
– The Sounders fielded a makeshift lineup.
With Gonzalo Pineda out with ankle injury – and somewhat surprisingly – Andy Rose tucked inside and Roldan slotted in on the wing, while winger Lamar Neagle was left on the bench.
Zach Scott replaced Chad Marshall in central defense, whether for rest or for injury reasons coach Sigi Schmid is set to address after the match. Leo Gonzalez made his first start since March at left back.
And still Seattle cruised.
Roldan was sharp, and the defense held firm for the shutout. The overall performance was a bit lackadaisical, especially in the second half — for all of Colorado’s inability to create chances from open play, Seattle left itself vulnerable with a series of cheap fouls atop its own box.
But the Sounders held on, and they moved to the top of the Western Conference. Seattle is two points clear of Dallas and with a six-goal edge in scoring differential.