SEATTLE — The Seattle Sounders celebrated the return of Steve Zakuani with a big 2-1 victory to snap a nine-match winless run against the Colorado Rapids in front of 39,060 at CenturyLink Field on Saturday night.
The Sounders built a 2-0 lead behind a pair of Mauro Rosales assists that were punctuated by Álvaro Fernández and Eddie Johnson, and withstood a late rally from the Rapids that included an Omar Cummings goal to bag all three points.
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The Sounders enjoyed the run of play from the beginning thanks to a great performance from Rosales. Slotted as withdrawn forward behind Eddie Johnson, the Argentine playmaker was on top of his game, nearly notching as assist just five minutes into the match when his free kick delivery was headed on target by Fernández, only to have Rapids 'keeper Matt Pickens make the save.
Fernández, who pestered the Rapids defense from his left midfield spot all match long, also failed to convert on a couple of chances before finally nodding home a perfectly placed Rosales corner kick in the 52nd minute to give Seattle just their second lead since last winning on May 9.
Johnson, who also had his fair share of chances, including one in the 14th minute, gave Seattle a 2-0 lead in the 64th minute. The forward found himself with space inside the box and rose over the defense to head home a cross from Rosales for his eight goal of the season.
But the Rapids, who had failed to trouble the Sounders defense except for a some soft attempts on goal, finally found some fight late in the match when, in the 79th minute, left back Luis Zapata perfectly curled a cross to Cummings at the far post for an easy tap in.
Cummings’ goal seemed to spark the Rapids, who nearly ruined the celebration of Zakuani's return when Jeff Larentowicz appeared to score the tying goal as Zakuani was waiting to check into the match. The play, however, was ruled offside.
With Seattle still in the lead, head coach Sigi Schmid decided to bring on Zakuani. The attacker, who hadn't appeared in an MLS match in more than a year since suffering a broken ankle in a match against Colorado, was received with a roar from the Sounders faithful.
The Rapids knocked on the Sounders' door yet again in stoppage time. With the visitors desperately seeking the equalizer, midfielder Martín Rivero pulled back and fired from the edge of the 18-yard box only to see his shot sail just high.
The Sounders will next host Chivas USA in a US Open Cup match on July 11, before traveling to face the New York Red Bulls four days later.
The Rapids, meanwhile, will return to Dick's Sporting Goods Park to host FC Dallas on July 14.
SEA - Alvaro Fernandez (Mauro Rosales) 52'
SEA - Eddie Johnson (Mauro Rosales) 64'
COL - Omar Cummings 4 (Luis Zapata 1) 79'
COL - Martin Rivero (caution) 51'
SEA - Eddie Johnson (caution) 65'
Colorado Rapids lineup: Matt Pickens, Hunter Freeman, Marvell Wynne, Drew Moor, Luis Zapata, Jeff Larentowicz, Jaime Castrillon (Tony Cascio 84'), Jamie Smith (Omar Cummings 67'), Brian Mullan, Conor Casey (Edu 67)
Subs not used: Stew Ceus, Tyrone Marshall, Joseph Nane, Wells Thompson
Referee: Kevin Stott