Summer had finally arrived in the Pacific Northwest after a dreary June that only was exceeded in dreariness by the Sounders performance over the same period of time. Seattle Sounders have not won a match in their last ten fixtures, they have managed to gather 5 points, 4 of those on the road, despite their inability to to win all 3 points. Sounders had plenty of other reasons to be optimistic other than the weather over the 4th of July Holiday, speculation was palpable as to whether or not Steve Zakuani would play against the team he faced when his leg was shattered by a Brian Mullan tackle 14 months ago.
Colorado Rapids have never been a favorite in Seattle and Mullan’s season-ending tackle on Steve Zakuani in 2011 certainly raised the ire of the Sounder supporters who felt that the longest suspension MLS has ever handed out was too lenient for Mullan. Colorado are well known for a pair of physical and athletic forwards, Conor Casey & Omar Cummings, and typically line up 4-4-2. Tonight Cummings was on the bench and a 4-3-3 was utilized.
Sounders started well early, although possession statistics at the second half indicated that it was a very even first half, possession was 52-48 in favor of Colorado who also completed 20 more passes in the first half than Sounders. Colorado did not get a shot on target in the first half, although there was one cross turned shot that had Bryan Meredith backpedalling to ensure the ball went over the crossbar and ran into the post that was very close to on frame although it was not scored as a shot on target officially. Matt Pickens on the other hand had work to do as early, stretching out to make two saves in the first 11 minutes of play.
Alvaro Fernandez would break the deadlock in the 52nd minute on a corner kick from Mauro Rosales on a near post run. Fernandez did not appear to be contested much on the opportunity and headed the ball into Matt Pickens net with such ease that it ought to happen more frequently. For Fernandez it was his first goal of the season, clearly sub par compared to his goal tally of 2011 of 9, although he could still reach that number with relative ease.
Sounders scored again 12 minutes later when Pat Ianni kept the ball from clearing the Rapids box after a corner kick, found Mauro Rosales on the left wing who assisted his second goal of the night on another cross to Eddie Johnson who had been receiving treatment for . Spirits were high among the Seattle faithful, a win was certainly within their grasp with a scant 25 minutes left until the 3 points that have been so elusive would finally be in their point column.
Colorado did not go away quietly, although they did have rather lengthy spells of what appeared to be listless and nonthreatening attack that made their possession effectively useless. Colorado had only three total shots on target the entire match
Sounders have found every way imaginable to not win games over their last ten MLS fixtures and they came dangerously close to giving away an equalizer in the 85th minute when Jeff Larentowicz found Omar Cummings in the box who was offside by the slimmest of margins.
Perhaps the defense was slightly distracted by who was about to come on for Rosales. Steve Zakuani brought the fans to a frenzy when came on to the pitch. 14 months of waiting for one of the most promising young players in MLS to return was let out in cathartic cheer that probably won’t be exceeded until Zakuani scores his first goal. Zakuani did well for a player who was just finding his way back to fitness and on to the pitch and wasn’t reinjured in the process.
At the end of match Brian Mullan & Steve Zakuani exchanged jerseys. Mullan never had any intent to harm Zakuani over a year ago, at the time Mullan was so emotional about it that he was unable to play. The two players have put this behind them and hopefully the fans will be following suit.