COMMERCE CITY, CO - APRIL 22: Omar Cummings #14 of the Colorado Rapids and Mauro Rosales #10 of the Seattle Sounders FC battle for control of the ball at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on April 22, 2011 in Commerce City, Colorado. The Sounders defeated the Rapids 1-0. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
It is GOOD to be back. Both from a two-week break and back to winning ways. One player especially glad to be back is Goalkeeper Michael Gspurning, in his first game action since early May. And he didn't disappoint. After an inexplicably undefended through ball, Gspurning returned to his old, box-dominating ways with 3 saves and loads of punchouts. In the second half, the Rapids dominated possession and spent much of that time in their attacking third, credited with 17 attempts on goal and 27 crosses. But the Austrian kept the defense organized and responded when he needed to, helping earn Seattle a win.
That isn't to minimize the monumental contribution of the GAM, Eddie Johnson. Johnson first scored in the second minute off a cross from the corner (the only corner of the game for Seattle), giving the Sounders one of the earliest leads in club history. He nearly wrote a sequel later in the first half, with an excellent shot that bounced off the far post. He got the assist on the game winner, with a great hanging cross to a wide open Alonso, who volleyed it straight to the back of the net.
Despite narrowly losing the possession battle, Seattle made up for it in duels won. Their passes and pass accuracy were also superior, and should only get better when the new toy (Tiffert) arrives.
Colorado isn't superior competition, and the Sounders didn't dominate them the way they probably should have, but the three points earned were valuable, allowing Seattle to leapfrog both Vancouver and Los Angeles with games in hand.
SEA - Eddie Johnson (Mauro Rosales) 2'
Seattle Sounders FC: Michael Gspurning, Adam Johansson, Jeff Parke, Patrick Ianni, Leo Gonzalez, Mauro Rosales, Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans (Marc Burch 83), Alex Caskey (Andy Rose 80), Eddie Johnson, Fredy Montero (Zach Scott 88).
TOTAL SHOTS: 8 (Johnson 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (Johnson 2); FOULS: 8 (Three players 2); OFFSIDE: 3 (Three players 1); CORNER KICKS: 1 (Rosales 1); SAVES: 3 (Gspurning 3).
Colorado Rapids: Matt Pickens, Drew Moor, Marvell Wynne, Tyrone Marshall, Luis Zapata, Jeff Larentowicz, Martin Rivero, Joseph Nane (Wells Thompson 62), Omar Cummings (Kamani Hill 62), Conor Casey, Brian Mullan (Andre Akpan 81).
TOTAL SHOTS: 17 (Casey 6); SHOTS ON GOAL: 4 (Casey 2); FOULS: 12 (Larentowicz 4); OFFSIDE: 1 (Rivero 1); CORNER KICKS: 5 (Rivero 5); SAVES: 1 (Pickens 1).
Referee: Paul Ward
Referee's Assistants: Kevin Duliiba, Chris Strickland
4th Official: Mark Declouet
Time of Game: 1:51
Weather: Cloudy and 77 degrees
Sigi Schmid, Seattle Sounders FC Head Coach
On overall thoughts of the game:
I was happy with how we played in the first half. Our goal was to be able to hold the ball, to possess the ball, to knock it around and to be patient with our attack, and I thought we did that. We got a good early goal, but then we gave that goal back right away. We had some chances. I thought our final pass, at times, wasn't what it needed to be and we just missed some passes there. Overall I was just pleased with what we did in the first half. In the second half we started off ok and then after that we fatigued a little bit. We maybe got a little cautious toward the end, but that is part of winning games too. Can you drop back and manage the end of the game, and we did that.
On Eddie Johnson continuing his run of form with his second minute goal:
It was a superb header. Obviously he got a good assist as well. Himself [Johnson] and Fredy [Montero] has found some goals in a couple of other games, and he'll find goals again. I was pleased with that.
On the return of Michael Gspurning:
He's a veteran goalkeeper. He's a guy who has a calming influence on the backs for us, he's got good experience. He came up with a good save in the second half, going to his left. He is able to deal with crosses with his size, and punch things clear. Having him back in there for us gives everyone a little more confidence because they know the quality he has. We've certainly missed him, not to take anything away from the goalkeepers that played while he was gone.
On the overall play of the backline:
I thought we worked hard, we had to block some shots, and we had to throw our bodies in front of things. I thought the guys did that. I didn't think we did as good a job cutting out some crosses. Obviously that's something that we probably need to work on a little bit better. Hats off to Colorado though, they're a team that's obviously trying to get wins and they were desperate. They were throwing people forward, they played with a lot of energy and they made it difficult for us at the end.
Michael Gspurning, Seattle Sounders Goalkeeper
On tonight's return:
It was a pretty quick game. To be honest the whole game for me was a pretty quick game. I don't know if it was maybe the altitude here, or because I was nine weeks away [from his last match]. It was a great win. We won the series now against the Colorado Rapids, 3-0. I think these points are very important. Now we have a couple of games next week, and we have to continue with winning games.
On getting back to 100 percent:
I need a couple of games more to get back to where I was before the injury, but from a physical standpoint I have to say thank you to the trainers, to the doctors and to the coaches because they brought me back to this point where I can play now.
Eddie Johnson, Seattle Sounders Forward
On the state of the league since his return:
I've realized that going to Europe and coming back to see the growth of the league, and how much it has changed, both technically and physically. It's a huge difference. Every team has their own style of play. It isn't four years ago, where it was a very athletic, direct league and very physical league. Right now this league, teams have a lot of technical quality where you've got to come here and you've got to really respect the teams that you play against and really have a game plan coming into these games. Colorado is a great team at passing the ball. Oscar Pareja was a coach that I played for in Dallas for many years and they like attacking and the possessing the ball type of football. We knew it was going to be tough, and at the end of the day we're happy to get the three points as a team.
On the second half:
We always create chances, this team. Me being new to the team, I'm still trying to find my way within the team. I've built a relationship with [Mauro] Rosales. I think he has seven assists on nine of my goals. I'm still learning how to play with this team and this team is still getting used to playing with me. This team always creates goal scoring chances. Even when we were going through our bad spell, when we didn't when seven games, Sigi always told us we're going to get chances, we're going to get chances, take your chances. I think I had two attempts on goal, and one of them was a goal and the other hit off the post. Can't be unsatisfied with that.
Oscar Pareja, Colorado Rapids Head Coach
His opening thoughts:
First of all I want to direct these words to the Colorado Rapids fans: we are feeling so bad, mostly because the support that the team, the players felt from the fans, is incredible. Despite the moment, despite the bad results, despite this situation when we run out of answers, the Colorado Rapids fans are there, pushing. Giving us a great example of courage. We feel it. I want to tell them that we are - I'm going to say embarrassed - because they deserve more than this. But I am the first one to take full responsibility, of the lack of results, of the team. The players have given us 100+ percent. I see the players on the training ground, I see the players in the locker room, I know how much they work to get things right, to turn these things around, so I don't want anyone to judge them. Because the only responsible [one] is the coach. We have to find a way to get things the way they should be, and the Colorado Rapids fans need it. Because they're paying to see us, they're pushing us at home, and we respect that. We're feeling so bad because that energy is bigger than the results we are giving them.
On his thoughts on the game:
I'm going to try to say this. I don't know if it's the right one, but the players are in pain. Because as I say, I saw them every day at training, and I can see that they want to go the extra mile and do things. And they're pushing and pushing and pushing and things aren't coming their way. The ball doesn't bounce on our side. But they are conscious of being strong and not using more excuses because they don't want more excuses. They don't want to say "Oh but we played better, we had many chances but we have just two mistakes." They don't want to say that, they don't want me to say that anymore. They are and I am tired of those excuses. We have to give answers and the answers have to come with results. They are in pain and they are in pain because they are truly professionals. I see it. And I need to step up for my players. If something is not done right, I'm the first one to [face it] and say that I've got to take this. I have to do something, I have to help them in a different way. Something has to come from me. But once again the players are suffering because they know how much this team represents to the Colorado Rapids fans.
On Seattle's performance:
Seattle's a good team. [Fredy] Montero, [Mauro] Rosales, they have a good squad. Eddie Johnson is [going] through a fantastic moment. It's giving us problems but when he hurt us the most was on the set pieces. But other than that I thought it was a matchup, it was a competition with Marvell [Wynne], with Drew [Moor], with Tyrone [Marshall]. The guys were competing with him, he's certainly a good player. But I thought for most of the game we controlled it.
Jeff Larentowicz, Colorado Rapids midfielder
On what happened tonight:
We've got to come together, you know. We have to figure it out. Obviously things aren't working, but the men in the room are the only ones that can figure it out. The season's not over so it's time to figure it out and move forward. That's it, move forward.
On what the next step is:
We have to put our head down and work harder. I think that there are little things in the game that let us down. I couldn't say that we played poorly over all, but there are instances in the game that don't turn out well and that concede goals. If we could sit down as a group and work through that in training and figure it out together and concentrate for 90 minutes then the results will start to turn.
Matt Pickens, Colorado Rapids Goalkeeper
On solving the losing streak:
We need to be part of the solution. We need to look ourselves in the mirror, plain and simple. We're the only people that are going to be in this locker room to get it done. He's [head coach Oscar Pareja] behind us 100 percent and he takes losses on the chin for the most part. We've got to do better. How we're going to do that is we are going to get back on the field on Tuesday and work hard. Like I said we need to look ourselves in the mirror and come back refreshed and try to get every point we can out of the rest of the season.
I don't know what it is. If I could put my finger on it, I'd do it. We're all, we're ready we're ready we're ready, and then we're not ready. Like I said every player on that roster has got to look himself in the mirror, including myself. We've just got to keep clawing. Like I said, we're the only people, in this room, that can get it done and we need to be part of the solution.
On where to go from here:
Back on the field and keep working. Where else are you going to go? We're in this. We're not going to be overhauling this locker room and brining people in at this point in the season. We're the people that are going to be doing it. If we want to be here to do it, jump on board, if you're not, stay home.
On Eddie Johnson's goal:
We know Eddie's [Johnson] is a good guy in the air and he's one of the guys that we've got to look out for. [Mauro] Rosales put a good ball in to the near post for him to get as high as he could to get on the end of the ball. Hats off to them. We're down 1-0, 1:30 into the game and it's pretty pathetic. We need to be better. We need to look ourselves in the mirror, like I said. There are no excuses. We've seen it before, we're seeing it again, and we keep seeing it. Like I said, we're the only people in this room that are going to be able to change it.