It wasn't perfect. It was far from perfect, in fact. But the Seattle Sounders didn't just win for the first time in six weeks, they did it while playing sometimes dominant soccer and overcoming some real adversity.
Brad Evans and Eddie Johnson each scored big, impressive goals. Evans' came relatively early, coming toward the end of what had been a cominant run of control. He showed the kind of calmness and composure that seems to have been lacking in so many of the Sounders' other playoff appearances.
Johnson's goal was a bit different. It was impressive in its own right, as he nutmegged a defender and then beat Clint Irwin off his line. But it was more of a statement. The Sounders needed that goal. They hadn't scored multiple goals in a game since Sept. 13, which also happened to be the last time they won a game. It's that goal that sent everyone home buzzing about what could happen on Saturday.
Johnson's goal also keeps us from worrying too much about Michael Gspurning's red-card earning gaffe. Gspurning wasn't necessarily having the best game up to that point, but he had been solid enough that he was keeping a clean sheet. But his inexplicable handling of a ball in the 85th minute cause the final 10 minutes of the match to be a lot more stressful than they needed to be. Anyway, enjoy.
SEA - Brad Evans 28'
SEA - Eddie Johnson (Clint Dempsey) 90+3
Seattle Sounders FC - Michael Gspurning, DeAndre Yedlin (Marc Burch, 45), Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Djimi Traore, Leo Gonzalez, Brad Evans, Osvaldo Alonso, Clint Dempsey, Adam Moffat (Zach Scott, 90), Eddie Johnson, Lamar Neagle (Marcus Hahnemann, 87).
TOTAL SHOTS: 14 (2 players, 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 4 (4 players, 1); FOULS: 17 (Neagle, 5); OFFSIDE: 4 (Johnson, 2); CORNER KICKS: 4 (Dempsey, 2); SAVES: 2 (Gspurning, 2).
Colorado Rapids - Clint Irwin, German Mera, Drew Moor, Shane O'Neill, Christopher Klute, Martin Rivero (Vicente Sanchez, 61), Hendry Thomas, Nathan Sturgis (Marvell Wynne, 85), Atiba Harris, Gabriel Torres, Deshorn Brown (Edson Buddle, 73).
Substitutes Not Used: Matt Pickens, Nick LaBrocca, Dillon Serna, Anthony Wallace.
TOTAL SHOTS: 7 (2 players, 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 2 (2 players, 1); FOULS: 19 (Harris, 5); OFFSIDE: 1 (Torres, 1); CORNER KICKS: 2 (Sanchez, 2); SAVES: 2 (Irwin, 2).
COL - Hendry Thomas (caution) 23'
COL - Atiba Harris (caution) 45+1
COL - Clint Irwin (caution) 53'
SEA - Lamar Neagle (caution) 78'
COL - German Mera (caution) 79'
SEA - Michael Gspurning (ejection) 85'
SEA - Eddie Johnson (caution) 89'
Referee: Silviu Petrescu
Referee's Assistants: Daniel Belleau; Peter Manikowski
4th Official: Allen Chapman
Time of Game: 1:54
Weather: Cloudy and 55-degrees
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial
* Sounders FC has gone 4-1-1 in its past six MLS Cup Playoffs matches, including a 3-0-1 record at home. Seattle is 4-5-2 overall in postseason play.
* Brad Evans' goal marked his fifth across all competitions this season, ranking fourth on Sounders FC. It was Evans' second career playoff goal and first with Sounders FC. He is now tied with Zach Scott for the most playoff points (3) in club history.
* Michael Gspurning posted his first shutout since a 2-nil win against Real Salt Lake on September 13, bringing his total to three shutouts in five playoff matches.
* Osvaldo Alonso has played every minute (1,020) of Seattle's 11 all-time playoff matches.
* Sounders FC is unbeaten in 49 straight games (38-0-11) when scoring first, marking the longest active streak in MLS and second-longest in league history.
* Seattle improved to 12-3-5 at home across all competitions this season.
* Sigi Schmid is now 23-12-6 all-time in the MLS Cup Playoffs.
Sigi Schmid - Sounders FC Head Coach
(On the result...) "Obviously we're happy to win the game and advance, that's the objective in the playoffs. Now we get ready for Portland, then we can talk about Portland. There's no need to ask who we would rather play with Portland, but we have to see how we heal up from this game. Obviously some guys got banged around-[DeAndre] Yedlin turned his ankle, that's the reason we had to take him off at halftime. I thought we created a number of good chances, I thought we played some very good soccer, I thought we had more of the game in the first half. Our finishing left a little bit of something to be desired. The goal Eddie [Johnson] finishes late to make it 2-0 was actually one of our more difficult chances, but overall I thought we deserved to win the game. They battled. Their game plan early on was to send a lot of balls to Atiba Harris and hope he could flick them on. Leo [Gonzalez] stood up to that challenge and had some good help from Adam Moffat in the first half, and I thought that was very important that we won a lot of second balls in that area of the field. That helped us determine possession and helped us go forward and play."
(On the defensive performance...) "DeAndre [Yedlin] did a good job. DeAndre will stand up to challenges and he knows that Deshorn Brown torched him the last time and so we talked about it and said, 'It's time for you to pay him back.' I thought he did the same thing with [Gyasi] Zardes, where he actually moved Zardes to the other wing. He stood up to that challenge. In the second half, when he was out, the decision was to move [Brad] Evans back there because we felt Zach Scott may have been an alternative, but Evans' feet would be better. That worked out well for us."
(On the lineup for Saturday...) "If we can keep guys healthy, keep them on the field and start playing together, we're pretty close to playing the same guys today as did on Sunday against LA. That little bit of continuity helped, too. The understanding of the midfield was really, really good. It says a lot of the team and its character and knowing we got to get through this-we got to battle, we got to win. I thought Clint [Dempsey] fought hard, I thought Eddie fought hard. There wasn't a guy on the field that I didn't think battled and did what they needed to do to help us win this game."
(On the team's first win in over a month...) "It's a win. It's been a long time since we won a game. We get reminded of that all the time. For us to win a game is just a good feeling. It's always been our belief that when we get our people on the field, we are a team that can win games. For us it's a win over a team that embarrassed us the last time. It's not just a win; it's the way we played as well. I thought we played well. It's not where we were hanging on and scrapping to get by, I thought we played well and had some good offensive sequences going forward. So from that standpoint it's a little more than a win-it's not just a win, it's knowing we played well and we're starting to understand how we want to play in this system."
(On Hahnemann filling in...) "I told Marcus [Hahnemann] after the game he's definitely starting the next game. I wanted to make sure there's no confusion, going into practice Thursday and Fridaynot sure if he's going to play or not. Marcus is a quality goalkeeper, it's not going to be an issue."
(On Eddie Johnson's yellow card...) It happens. Sometimes emotion is there and sometimes it gets the best of you. Obviously we want to avoid yellows as much possible, and we know what the rules are in the playoffs, but we just have to play smart.
(On the shutout...) "I thought our defense played well today. I think they had one good look where Brown came inside and tried to bend one in with his right foot that Gspurning kind of batted and pounced on. There were a couple of headers there that ended up going over the goal, but I didn't think we gave them a lot of very, very clean looks. I thought defensively we did a very good job of forcing the play away-we had our gameplan and our guys did a very good job of sticking to the game plan. We wanted to force the ball a little more to the right hand side, which we did, with [Shane] O'Neill handling the ball more. I think [Chris] Klute is a guy who is pretty dangerous coming forward and I don't think Klute got forward at all today until the very end of the game. I think that's a tribute to Brad [Evans] and to DeAndre on that side."
(On Gspurning's red card...) "I talked to him. He felt that if he would have been sideways on that he might have noticed that there was no one from their team that was going to break in behind him and he could have let the ball go over his head and he could have picked it up in the 18-yard box. But he wasn't sure and he wanted to come out and head the ball, and realized the ball had bounced too high for him to head it. He thought he had jumped back into the box and then caught the ball, and then he was outside the box. The referee decided it was a red card-I don't know how their goalkeeper doesn't get a red card on the play earlier, but that's the referee's decisions."
(On the team's goalkepeper situation...) "Hahnemann is an experienced goalkeeper. I think our goalkeeper situation-people make a lot out of it over the last few weeks-like I said before I think it was just two bad games, not entirely attributed to the goalkeeper, but also to us not playing good defense in those two games. I feel very confident, I always have, that we have two of the better goalkeepers in the league, so we don't lose anything, we don't gain anything. Hahnemann's kicking is a little better than Michael's, so he might try to score a goal off of a goal kick or something, but that's about it."
(On preparing for Portland...) "We got to play them, we got to see. They play a similar formation to Colorado. Formations can be similar-it's players and personalities that make it different. We'll develop our game plan and be ready for them."
(On tonight's formation...) "I thought we played well in it-especially when it was [Brad] Evans, Ozzie [Alonso] and [Adam] Moffat-I thought their cohesion was pretty good and allowed Clint the freedom to go. I think when we changed Burch in, he hadn't really trained in that position. He's more of a wide guy or full back so he played a little bit wider and that threw us off a bit, but that wasn't his fault. He just hadn't had his time in there, but I think we'll be OK."
(On the injury status for Saturday...) "We'll have to see how people recover. It's a short turnaround for us so we'll have to see how people recover and how they feel."
(On Dempsey's performance...) "I think he has taken to the role playing as the attacking midfielder. I thought he was unlucky with his one shot-his one left-footed shot he had. He had some other good looks, but as we develop more understanding of where we're going to be then that just allows him to get more balls in dangerous positions. I thought he did well. I'm sure he would want to take one or two passes back where he had a chance to slip somebody in, but overall I thought it was good."
(On advancing in the playoffs...) "Some could call it rhythm; some will call, 'You play three games in seven days.' So it all depends on how you choose to look at it. I think right now it's mind over matter and you just have to go out and play-that's just the way it is. There's no tomorrow, you just have to go out and play."
Eddie Johnson - Sounders FC Forward
(On his mindset going in to the game...) "We really wanted to carry the momentum from the first half of last game into this game. We came out and pushed the game from the start. Brad Evans scored a world class goal and we tried to take the momentum from there. All through the season we have worked through adversity, and with [Michael] Gspurning going out we knew we would only get one chance, but [Clint] Dempsey, [Lamar] Neagle and myself are always confident that we can put one away. It was just a great way to seal the game."
(On scoring a goal...) "For me it is about rhythm. I have been off for two and a half weeks and it has been frustrating. Last game I think I got out and was trying to do too much, but this game I just wanted to relax. I knew it was going to be a physical game and I knew it was going to be a difficult game, but I was in it, I was focused for 90 minutes, and when my opportunity came I made the best of it."
(On the quick turnaround for Saturday...) "We are on to the next round. It gives players a chance to get healthy and it gives us momentum. I have been here for two years and this is a strong team we have right now. We all know that we won't always be able to play with each other and we are just trying to take advantage of this opportunity. Look at this crowd, bro. We wanted to give them a win tonight and we did that."
(On how far momentum can take you in the playoffs...) "LA did it last year. Houston did it last year, too, when they snuck in the playoffs. We just want to take it one game at a time. We are delighted to get this win tonight. As much as tonight was for the fans, I was doing it for [Sounders FC Assistant Equipment Manager Scott Tranilla], whose wife passed away. My goal was to get this win for her."
Brad Evans - Sounders FC Midfielder
(On the win as a whole...) "For us in the locker room, we got the mentality that all was not lost in the last couple of weeks. We came out hot tonight. It kind of propelled us to this victory tonight. We have been in the 1-0 situation before and we have conceded and or lost those games so we were trying to be a little but smarter tonight. We were really trying to get [a goal] at the end to seal it and we were able to."
(On his goal...) "It was actually something I thought about a little today. I thought that I was going to score on a volley and I was just hoping it was going to come true. The ball came across and I was able to chest it down. When I saw a little bit of a gap I was able to get good contact on the ball and find the back of the net.
(On if this team has enough for Saturday...) "We've done this before. When it is a playoff game you try and throw everything out the window. Is it going to be perfect? No, but at the same time it is mental at this point. Coming off a win you always feel a little bit better. It is easier to wake up the next morning and get back on the grind. We will probably have a good day tomorrow with it being Halloween and then we will settle in and start focusing on the next game."
Adam Moffat - Sounders FC Midfielder
(On the win feeling good...) "Yes, definitely. It's been a bit rough. But we made it to the playoffs and it's a big win for us, I thought we played well, got the result we were looking for."
(On the feeling now compared to last year with Houston Dynamo...) "You know this one's a little bit trickier. Last year we were in Chicago. We were in the 4th/5th place play-in game so it was a little bit of a trickier game. We got through that and the momentum just started from there. We ended up winning the next few games and making a run to the final so I mean it's the same kind of feeling you know. We didn't finish the season too strong but once you're in there anything can happen."
(On difficulty adjusting to a new team...) "Yeah, definitely. Sometimes it takes a little while to get used to playing with different players and playing on different surfaces. That stuff can take a while and I'm feeling good physically. I'm feeling good."
Oscar Pareja - Colorado Rapids Head Coach
(On the team's performance...) "This stadium, against one of the toughest teams in the league, with this atmosphere, to perform the way that they did today, with that energy and that level of commitment with the game, I'm proud of what the boys have done during this season. I feel bad for them because I know they wanted to advance, but that's the game."
(On starting German Mera...) "We have two games in three days, turf, there are some players that suffer a little bit more than others. We wanted to bring some help in the air in that part of the game that the Sounders is strong, so we choose to play German in that part of the field, to strengthen in that aerial game that Seattle would bring."
(On Mera's performance...) "Good. I thought all in all it was good. The challenges in the air, that was where we plan it. We wanted to be strong in that part and I thought he did well."
(On the atmosphere...) "With a crowd like the crowd that attend this game tonight, with the players and the effort and with everything that involved, this game, it's tough to play it in a field like that, with the turf, with all my respect. But that's what it is and we have to adjust and it was a difficult surface for both teams."
(On his second year as head coach...) "My philosophy is about every day and every game. I don't plan anything. I want to win every game, whether it's in the season, whether it's in the playoffs or the offseason and that's the way I feel, that's the way I play the game. If you ask me today, I feel terrible. I'm not happy, obviously. I can see great things that happened in the season, but we are competitors here and obviously there is some bitter in this result. But I say we keep moving forward and nothing else we can do."
Drew Moor - Colorado Rapids Defender
(On the result...) "It was disappointing. I'm certainly proud of the boys for leaving it all out on the field. I think for one thing, I wish we would have start off a little brighter. [It was] a playoff game - it's different. If we start the game the way we finished the second half, I think we give ourselves a little better chance."
(On the venue...) "It's always difficult here - it's a tough place to play. Not that I thought we got off to a poor start by any means. I just think we lacked that kind of bite - that urgency - that we needed to start the game with. It eventually did come after that first goal, but it's too late by then."
(On the future...) The young guys aren't young guys anymore. They aren't kids, they're men, and they proved that over the course of the season. My dream is that everybody comes back and we start fresh again next January."
(On Seattle's second goal...) "We were pushed up, trying to get that equalizer. It was a good piece of play by Eddie Johnson but I think we needed to play the throw in a little tighter being a man up. Dempsey got the ball with too much space. We were on the same page, but credit to Eddie for doing what he can do."