SEATTLE – Midfielder Steve Zakuani scored two goals as the Seattle Sounders earned a 2-1 over the Colorado Rapids, their first victory this season against a Western Conference foe.
With the victory, Seattle leapfrog Houston in the Western Conference standings and now stand a point behind the Rapids, who got a goal from Omar Cummings, and San Jose.
With both the Sounders and the Rapids gunning for all three points, the match got off to an entertaining start.
Zakuani opened the scoring in the 8th minute. After Fredy Montero fought to keep the ball alive in the penalty area, Zakuani latched onto the ball struck a right-footed shot. The ball ricocheted off the near post, off the back of Colorado goalkeeper Matt Pickens, and into the net.
Forty-five seconds later, Cummings provided the answer. He cut quickly inside Zach Scott, who was starting in place of the suspended Leo Gonzalez, and beat Keller to his far post with a strong left-footed effort.
With the score tied and each team creating chances, Seattle earned what would be the game-winning goal. Montero played a nicely-weighted chip over Colorado’s Danny Earls to an onrushing Sanna Nyassi, who centered the ball. Pickens got the slightest of touches on it, but not enough to push the ball out of the path of Zakuani, who beat Marvell Wynne to score his seventh goal of the season, this one from extremely close range.
Colorado once again threatened to answer quickly, as Conor Casey’s header forced a diving save from Keller.
After some speculation during the week, Colorado came out in a 4-3-3 formation with Casey alone up top. As the game proceeded, they appeared to toggle between a few different looks, with Cummings pushing up front midway through the first half to pair with Casey in a standard.
As the second half got underway, the visitors applied pressure and had several opportunities to level the score.
In the 55th minute, Mehdi Ballouchy was poised to finish with his head but Seattle’s Jeff Parke arrived just in time to intercept the dangerous cross. In the 61st, Keller made another good save on a flick from Jamie Smith. Perhaps the best chance of all went to Cummings, who hit his shot over the crossbar a few minutes later with only Keller to beat.
Colorado made additional tactical changes, bringing on Claudio Lopez and attack-minded right back Kosuke Kimura. The Rapids dominated possession for vast stretches in the second half, with Seattle attempting to weather the storm with hard-nosed defense.
Colorado’s attacks were concentrated through Cummings, who had moved out to the right side of the field and was locked in a duel with Scott. Despite tremendous pressure, Colorado failed to find the equalizer.
Montero nearly added a goal for Seattle with two long-range efforts late in the game, but both were covered by Pickens.
Casey, attempting to tie the game late, came up bloodied after a penalty box collision with Seattle’s Ianni in additional time. With just seconds left in the match, the Colorado striker walked slowly off the field.
The Sounders, now 6-8-4, return to action on Wednesday in a CONCACAF Champions League qualifier against El Salvador’s Metapán.
Colorado, now winless in their last six, dropped to 6-5-5 and will entertain FC Dallas next Saturday.
SEA -- Steve Zakuani 6 (unassisted) 8
COL -- Omar Cummings 5 (Pablo Mastroeni 1) 9
SEA -- Steve Zakuani 7 (Sanna Nyassi 2, Fredy Montero 8) 17
SEA -- Zach Scott (caution; Tactical Foul) 28
COL -- Jamie Smith (caution; Reckless Tackle) 58
SEA -- Osvaldo Alonso (caution; Reckless Tackle) 90
Colorado Rapids -- Matt Pickens, Julien Baudet, Marvell Wynne, Drew Moor, Danny Earls (Kosuke Kimura 65), Omar Cummings, Pablo Mastroeni, Mehdi Ballouchy (Quincy Amarikwa 77), Jeff Larentowicz, Jamie Smith (Claudio Lopez 65), Conor Casey.
Substitutes Not Used: Colin Clark, Wells Thompson, Scott Palguta, Ian Joyce.
Seattle Sounders -- Kasey Keller, James Riley, Jeff Parke, Patrick Ianni, Zach Scott, Sanna Nyassi (Roger Levesque 81), Nathan Sturgis (Mike Seamon 74), Osvaldo Alonso, Steve Zakuani, Fredy Montero, Blaise Nkufo (Nate Jaqua 70).
Substitutes Not Used: Tyrone Marshall, Tyson Wahl, Miguel Montano, Terry Boss.
Referee: Yader Reyes; Referee's Assistants: Kermit Quisenberry; Chris Strickland; 4th Official: Landis Wiley
Weather: Clear and 75 degrees