Preview: Colorado vs Seattle, Oct. 5

Massive Western Conference clash between teams separated by just six points

COLORADO RAPIDS vs SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC
DICK’S SPORTING GOODS PARK, Commerce City, Colo.
Oct. 5, 2013 (WEEK 32, MLS Game #295)
8 p.m. MT (NBC SN; Buy Tickets)

A massive match in the Western Conference is ahead on Saturday evening when the Colorado Rapids play host to Seattle Sounders FC at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park before an NBC Sports Network audience. The Rapids return to action holding down the final playoff place in the division standings following their 1-0 loss at Portland two weeks ago. Sounders FC are tied atop the West and one point back in the race for the Supporters’ Shield, following their 1-1 home draw with New York last weekend.

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REFEREE: David Gantar. AR1 (bench): Philippe Briere; AR2 (opposite): Corey Parker; 4th: Baldomero Toledo
Gantar MLS Career: 21 games; FC/gm: 25.6; Y/gm: 2.9; R: 8; pens: 1

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DISABLED LIST: COL: Davy Armstrong (season-ending injury); Kory Kindle (season-ending injury) … SEA: Josh Ford
SUSPENDED: none
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: COL: Shane O’Neill, Dillon Powers … SEA: Leo Gonzalez, Zach Scott, Djimi Traore
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: COL: Hendry Thomas … SEA: Osvaldo Alonso, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Adam Moffat, Brad Evans
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (11 meetings): Rapids 1 win, 10 goals … Sounders FC 8 wins, 19 goals … Ties 2
AT COLORADO (5 meetings): Rapids 1 win, 4 goals … Sounders FC 3 wins, 6 goals … Ties 1

2013
4/20: COL 0, SEA 1 (Martins 17)
7/20: SEA 1, COL 1 (Yedlin 65 – Moor 60)

• The teams are meeting for the third time this season. Obafemi Martins scored the game’s only goal in the first half to lead Sounders FC to victory, April 20 in Commerce City; Seattle’s DeAndre Yedlin and Colorado’s Drew Moor traded second-half goals to leave the teams in a 1-1 draw July 20 at CenturyLink Field.
• The draw in the last match ended a seven-game winning streak between the teams for Sounders FC. They have won eight of 11 league matches in the series, with two draws.
• The lone Rapids victory came May 29, 2010, a 1-0 triumph at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Sounders FC have not lost to the Rapids in Seattle, in six meetings.
• Coaches' records: Sigi Schmid vs. COL: P40 W22 L10 D8 … Oscar Pareja vs. SEA: P5 W0 L4 D1

LAST MEETING (MLS)

• Both goals came within a five-minute span midway through the second half. The Rapids took the lead in the 60th minute on a Drew Moor header nearly on the goal line from a corner kick by Nick LaBrocca -- which may well have curled inside the back post.

Highlights: SEA 1, COL 1

• But Sounders FC drew level following a wild sequence. Lamar Neagle fired off a shot that rung off the right post. DeAndre Yedlin hit the rebound first time -- only to see it saved by Rapids goalkeeper Clint Irwin -- before he followed up by heading in the rebound.
• SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC (4-4-2): Andrew Weber - DeAndre Yedlin, Zach Scott, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez - Mauro Rosales (Brad Evans 71), Servando Carrasco (Eriq Zavaleta 86), Osvaldo Alonso, Marc Burch (David Estrada 76) - Lamar Neagle, Obafemi Martins.
• COLORADO RAPIDS (4-2-3-1): Clint Irwin - Marvell Wynne (German Mera 66), Shane O'Neill, Drew Moor, Christopher Klute - Nathan Sturgis, Hendry Thomas - Atiba Harris, Dillon Powers (Edson Buddle 57), Nick LaBrocca - Deshorn Brown (Anthony Wallace 74).

COLORADO RAPIDS

The Colorado Rapids return to action after seeing their two-game winning streak come to an end last time out in a 1-0 defeat by the Portland Timbers at Jeld-Wen Field. The Rapids are in a tie for fourth place in the Western Conference with 45 points from 30 matches.

LAST MATCH

• The game's lone goal came in the 13th minute. A poor clearance was deflected right to Diego Valeri, and from outside the area he put a perfectly placed chip over Colorado goalkeeper Clint Irwin.
• Timbers goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts had to make just a solitary save in keeping the clean sheet.

Highlights: POR 1, COL 0

• Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja made two changes to the team that came back for a 2-1 win against FC Dallas at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Martin Rivero and Nick LaBrocca came back into the side, in place of Nathan Sturgis and Vicente Sanchez.
• COLORADO RAPIDS (4-2-3-1): Clint Irwin - Marvell Wynne, Shane O'Neill, Drew Moor, Christopher Klute - Hendry Thomas, Dillon Powers - Atiba Harris (Deshorn Brown 72), Martin Rivero (Gabriel Torres 55), Nick LaBrocca (Jaime Castrillon 84) - Edson Buddle.

TEAM NEWS

• The Rapids were shut out for the first time since July 7 in the loss to Portland. Of their last three offensive shutouts – over the last 22 games – two have come at Jeld-Wen Field.
• “In the last third of the field, we needed to be clean. When we got in those spots we were forcing passing and shooting and I thought we could be a bit more patient and build something different,” said Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja. “We had energy, we had chances, but we needed to be cleaner.”
• It was also the fourth time this season the Rapids lost by a 1-0 scoreline. Of their six attacking shutouts, they’ve lost four by the game’s only goal.
• “It was obviously a mistake,” Pareja said. “It’s unfortunate we lost points with it. It’s all on us.” Said defender Shane O’Neill: “I think it was just a little bit of confusion on the goal. But other than that, I thought we were solid. I thought me and Drew [Moor] kept it pretty compact and in the second half we even stepped up the line a little bit.”
• Martín Rivero made his first start since June 19, playing 55 minutes in a central midfield role. He had made three appearances as a substitute in the meantime.
• “I felt pretty good, I felt good in my lungs, I think I'm still missing a little bit of rhythm,” Rivero said. “It was good to be out there with my teammates again and now just getting back into the rhythm of the game, but I'm satisfied with the game I was able to play and I think they had very few options [opportunities] other than the goal.”
• Midfielder Vicente Sánchez was not available after four consecutive appearances, after suffering discomfort during training the day before the game.
• The Rapids have two of their four remaining games at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. They have not lost in a league game in Commerce City since June 15, now riding a seven-game home undefeated streak.
• “We just have to take these two weeks to work really hard. We can't think about this game that just went by, we just have to think about Seattle,” said Rivero. “They are three really important points that we have to keep in our house. We've got these two weeks to train as hard as we can and get the points out of our next game.”

SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC

Seattle Sounders FC extended their home and overall undefeated runs, the New York Red Bulls coming back for a 1-1 draw on Sunday evening at CenturyLink Field. Sounders FC are in a tie for the lead in the Western Conference with 51 points from 29 matches.

LAST MATCH

• Sounders FC took the lead in the final minute of the first half. A cross from Brad Evans struck the hand of Red Bulls defender Markus Holgersson inside the New York penalty area, and after referee Kevin Stott pointed to the spot, Evans buried the resulting penalty despite goalkeeper Luis Robles guessing correctly.

Highlights: SEA 1, NY 1

• But the visitors leveled terms in the 76th minute. A failed clearance fell to Tim Cahill in the left side of the box, and he buried a curling strike into the far side netting.
• Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid made three changes to the team that reached a 1-1 draw with the LA Galaxy at StubHub Center. Marc Burch and Djimi Traore came into the back four for Leo Gonzalez and the suspended Zach Scott, and Brad Evans started in midfield in place of Andy Rose.
• SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC (4-1-3-2): Michael Gspurning - DeAndre Yedlin, Djimi Traore, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Marc Burch - Osvaldo Alonso - Mauro Rosales (Adam Moffat 79), Brad Evans, Lamar Neagle - Eddie Johnson, Obafemi Martins.

TEAM NEWS

•    While it was a second consecutive draw for Sounders FC, they did extend their overall undefeated streak to seven games, and their home undefeated streak to 14 games, having not lost in Seattle since a 1-0 loss to Montréal to open the season on March 2.
•    “Anytime we play at home and we don't win we feel it's two points lost, whether it's this game or any other game,” said Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid. “For us, you can look at it as a point gained because they hit the post a couple times and we could have had zero. We got a point from that standpoint, but anytime you play at home you want to get a win.”
•    The trip to Colorado starts a run of three of the next four games away from CenturyLink Field for Sounders FC.
•    “We still have some games in hand. I know we got some tough games coming up and next week's going to be a tough week with Colorado and then Vancouver in the middle of the week. And then the end of the week Portland,” said Schmid. “That's going to be a tough week for us when two of the three are away. We've been put in tough situations before and we've met them, so we just have to stand up and meet them again.”
•    Brad Evans returned to the starting lineup for the first time since Aug. 31, since being forced from the field early in the Columbus match with an injury.
•    “We can combine a little bit better and be better with our passes. If we do that, we get them a little more tired and ragged in the back and we get more chances. It's just being a little more patient, playing a little better with the ball. Maybe playing it a little more safe,” Evans said.
•    Evans converted the penalty kick for the Sounders FC goal, his fourth goal of the season, his second from a spot kick, and his first since netting in back-to-back games July 28-Aug. 3.
•    Clint Dempsey missed a second consecutive match and was out of the first XI for a fifth contest since his last Seattle start, Aug. 31 vs. Columbus. Leo Gonzalez was also forced out of the lineup.
•    “Clint just wasn't ready to go and Leo's been bothered by that groin. We felt we needed to shut them down or else we'd lose him for a more significant part,” said Schmid. “We'll see how they come along this week. The expectations now are that they both have a chance at playing this coming weekend.”
•    Marc Burch started at left back for Seattle in Gonzalez’s place, his first start at the position in league play since the fourth game of the season, March 30 vs. Real Salt Lake.
•    “I'm sure he'll tell you, as well, that he would have wanted to play a little bit more at times,” said Schmid. “It's been a while since he played left back. It's a position he's played enough few years that it's not an uncomfortable place for him to play.”