Categorized | Match Reports

Sounders kick off second half of season with 3-0 win

Posted on 29 June 2009 by nschiffler

The Seattle Sounders needed a big win going into the second half of the MLS season. And they got it in the same fashion as they began the first half – with a resounding 3-0 victory.

This win will be all the better because the opponent, the Colorado Rapids, are the closest team to the Sounders in the Western Conference standings. But Seattle widened the gap between the two sides on Sunday afternoon, thanks to three goals from their increasingly productive forward tandem. Nate Jaqua scored twice and Fredy Montero once, with each assisting on the other’s goals.

However, it was the Rapids that started brightest. In the 3rd minute, some Seattle confusion in the defense set up Colin Clark with an open one-on-one look from very close range that Kasey Keller smothered, and the rebound was cleared from danger. Despite this early chance, Seattle created multiple opportunities within the first quarter of an hour, with a few close range set pieces and corner kicks. In the 21st minute, one of these corners was converted for the Sounders’ first goal. Freddy Ljungberg swung in a very dangerous ball that Jaqua put on frame with a powerful header, and Montero was in the right place at the right time and redirected it into the net for the lead.

The best early chances for both sides were coming off of set pieces. Another foul near the Colorado goal set up a free kick for Ljungberg, and his dipping shot was headed for goal before Pickens tipped it just over the bar. Then in the 33rd minute, Colin Clark forced a dubious free kick outside Seattle’s area, which he hit directly into the wall – specifically, into the forearm of Osvaldo Alonso. After consulting with the linesman, the referee awarded Colorado a penalty. This drew a huge amount of protesting from the Sounders. Keller was infuriated, barking at the referee and motioning repeatedly for the supporters behind his goal to voice their disapproval. Eventually, Omar Cummings would step up to take the penalty. Miraculously, he clanged it against the post and the rebound was swept out of play, causing about 32,000 sighs of relief. It was a narrow escape for Seattle.

Even without the penalty, the Rapids were the most dangerous team in the latter part of the first half. Multiple times they worked the ball into the penalty area, only to take a bad shot or fail to get a shot off at all. When the first half whistle came, the Sounders were probably a bit lucky to have the lead, because the match up to that point had been slightly in favor of the Rapids. Colorado had more opportunities, but the Sounders had been able to capitalize on theirs.

Seattle then came out on all cylinders to begin the second half, and doubled their advantage in the 48th minute. Getting the ball in the box on a throw-in, Jaqua did extremely well to keep the ball while holding off 3 defenders. He maintained possession long enough for Montero to arrive, and played a one-two with his strike partner before rolling it past a helpless Pickens. It was a great piece of individual tenacity and effort by Jaqua, who was having an outstanding day and deserved both of the goals he scored. After the goal a little bit of the life went out of the Colorado attack, and for the next quarter of an hour or so neither team did anything particularly dangerous. The only real drama was how much Colorado’s Nick Labrocca could pull the shirts of Sounders players without getting booked.

Sebastien Le Toux came on in the 67th minute. And he immediately found himself involved in the attack, receiving the ball in midfield with acres of space in front of him and no Rapids interested in defending. Running at the defense, he played a ball across and into the penalty area, which Montero expertly touched ever so slightly to slow it down. The ball rolled directly to an onrushing and unmarked Jaqua, who made no mistake with his strike to give the Sounders a 3-0 lead. Colorado were completely finished, and the capacity crowd – with more fans packed into the stadium than any other game this season – were jubilant.

Seattle weren’t done attacking. By this point the Sounders were confident enough to try out a Barcelona-style 4-3-3 lineup, with Le Toux as the third forward. And it nearly led to Jaqua’s third goal. In the 85th minute he broke free from the defense, but he touched the ball a little too far in front of himself and his effort was smothered. Le Toux gathered the rebound but was unable to finish.

Towards the end Seattle’s defenders collectively fell asleep, and Colorado had a golden chance to salvage some pride, but Cummings blazed well over the bar from about 10 yards out. The badly missed chance neatly summed up his night, and shortly after the whistle would blow. It was an outstanding win for the Sounders, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. The scoreline didn’t reflect how close the first half was, but it was a comfortable win nonetheless, and it puts some much needed ground between Seattle and their Western Conference rivals.

Player Ratings (scale of 1-0 with 10 being highest)

Nate Jaqua – 8
All game long he was winning almost every ball from his defender. Had a great header on the assist of Montero’s goal, fabulous play on his first goal and good finish on his second. His best game of the year.

Fredy Montero – 7.5
Doing better to hold the ball and was being creative in finding teammates. Had another very strong all-around game.

Freddy Ljungberg – 7
Very good set pieces, which was a nice change from some of Seattle’s earlier games. At times he got too pulled in the middle, leaving Wahl to defend on his own, but his excellent ball distribution and passing made up for it.

Brad Evans – 5
Had more than a few uncharacteristic turnovers, and was visibly frustrated with himself after his mistakes. Probably just an off-day.

Osvaldo Alonso – 6
Although he had to come off due to injury partway through the first half, he didn’t make a huge impact in his limited time on the pitch. Didn’t make any or many mistakes though.

Sanna Nyassi – 6
In a rare start, he had a very good workrate, but not a lot of accuracy with many of his passes. He did defend more than he has before, though, and didn’t look overmatched on the pitch at all.

Tyson Wahl – 5.5
Got outpaced down the wing a little, but he didn’t have much defensive help – almost all of Colorado’s dangerous crosses came from his side. Not that they came to much of anything.

Tyrone Marshall – 6.5
He was clearly slower than some of Colorado’s attackers, but he defended intelligently and didn’t get caught out at all.

Jhon Kennedy Hurtado – 7
Had many good clearances, and dealt with Cummings well by using his strength to his advantage. He’ll often make one or two big mistakes, but he made none today.

James Riley – 5.5
He didn’t have a whole lot of defending to do on his side, and did get troubled a couple times.

Kasey Keller – 7
Had a very good save to open up the game. There was a lot of pressure and mayhem with Colorado in the box, especially in the first half, and he dealt with it well.

Patrick Ianni (sub) – 6.5
Did good job winning headers over bigger players. There was little noticeable drop-off in central midfield when he replaced Alonso, which is high praise.

Sebastien Le Toux (sub) – 6
Colorado gave him space to attack and he obliged, getting an assist with nearly his first touch.

Pete Vagenas (sub) –
Wasn’t on long enough to receive a rating. Didn’t really do anything.

1 Comments For This Post

  1. Bill Holton Says:

    What's wrong with Brad Evans, Thats not like him at all

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