It wasn't necessarily pretty, but the Seattle Sounders 1-0 win over the Colorado Rapids on Saturday was exactly what this organization needed. Despite using their fifth different starting lineup and bringing in a 19th different starter, the Sounders head into their bye week sitting on 10 points through five matches. That's a better start than they've ever had in the three previous MLS seasons.
How the Sounders got the win is maybe not as important, but is certainly notable. Zach Scott picked up his first career MLS goal; Alex Caskey earned the assist with a perfectly placed corner in his first-ever start; and the Sounders posted their third shutout in four matches.
They've done all this despite getting off to a rather slow start offensively. David Estrada has four of the team's six goals and Fredy Montero is still looking for his first point. Montero did his best to end that drought, firing off eight shots and easily could have had a couple goals if not for some impressive saves from Matt Pickens
It should also be noted that just about everyone involved should feel satisfied with the whole Brian Mullan thing. He was booed at every opportunity, but it never went beyond that. After the game, he sounded genuine in his remorse for the situation and didn't begrudge Seattle fans for taking out their frustrations on him.
Photos courtesy of Jane Gershovich/Jane G. Photography
Goals by Period
Seattle Sounders FC
SEA - Zach Scott (Alex Caskey) 63'
Seattle Sounders FC - Michael Gspurning, Zach Scott, Jeff Parke, Patrick Ianni, Leo Gonzalez, David Estrada, Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Alex Caskey (Marc Burch 76'), Fredy Montero (Roger Levesque 89'), Eddie Johnson (Sammy Ochoa 67').
Substitutes Not Used: Bryan Meredith, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Andy Rose, Christian Sivebaek.
TOTAL SHOTS: 18 (Montero 8); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (Montero 3); FOULS: 12 (Johnson 4); OFFSIDE: 3 (Johnson 2); CORNER KICKS: 9 (Caskey 7); SAVES: 1 (Gspurning 1).
Colorado Rapids - Matt Pickens, Kosuke Kimura, Marvell Wynne, Drew Moor, Luis Zapata, Jeff Larentowicz, Jaime Castrillon (Kamani Hill 69'), Martin Rivero, Brian Mullan, Omar Cummings, Tony Cascio (Andre Akpan 83').
Substitutes Not Used: Steward Ceus, Hunter Freeman, Joseph Nane, Tyrone Marshall, Wells Thompson.
TOTAL SHOTS: 4 (Rivero 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 1 (Cummings 1); FOULS: 14 (Wynne, Rivero 3); OFFSIDE: 3 (3 players 1); CORNER KICKS: 2 (Rivero 2); SAVES: 4 (Pickens 4).
SEA - Eddie Johnson (caution) 47'
SEA - Zach Scott (caution) 49'
COL - Brian Mullan (caution) 87'
SEA - Fredy Montero (caution) 87'
Referee: Baldomera Toledo
Referee's Assistants: Ian Anderson; Kevin Duliba
4th Official: Alejandro Mariscal
Time of Game: 1:57
Weather: Clear and 55-degrees
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial
POSTGAME QUOTES: Sounders FC vs. Colorado Rapids - April 14, 2012
Sigi Schmid - Sounders FC Head Coach
(On the result...) "Obviously we're pleased with the 1-0 win; another shutout for our defense, which is a good thing. I thought we - especially in the second half - I thought we created a number of chances. Our finishing - we're still struggling to find it a little bit, so sometimes you've just got to take a game like this. But overall, I thought we were more dangerous. Overall I thought a lot of their possession was in the deep end of the field. It was possession that didn't concern us too much and I thought we did a good job when they came forward. I thought we did a good job of contesting the ball, winning the ball in midfield and being able to turn those into attacking sequences for us."
(On if he was tempted to pull Zach Scott out of the game with a minute to go...) "No, no. He's lucky because he plays defense. If he had been a forward we might have done that so that he could listen to the applause."
(On Zach Scott's goal...) "It's great. His first MLS goal and one of the original Sounders guys. Sometimes people say this or that but the thing is he gives everything he has every time he steps on the field and his energy level is great. He competes for everything and he makes the guys around him compete."
(On getting a win before going into a break in the schedule...) "It was great because obviously when you're going into the break you'd rather go into the break with a win underneath you as your last game because you don't want to stew on your last result. It's like what Houston [Dynamo] had to go through when they played here and then didn't have a game for a while, so from that aspect it was important. It was good for us to get a goal. Again, like I said, we had chances. Sammy Ochoa had two good chances, two good looks in the second half. Fredy Montero had a couple of good looks, a couple of free kicks that were close, as well, in the first half - Evans' header off the set piece, so I thought we had some good looks and eventually those things will start going in for us as well, as long as we continue to create them."
(On attacking the Colorado defense...) "They sat pretty deep defensively and so then after we scored that forced them to come out a little bit. It opened up a little bit of space for us to attack into. In games like this, these are games where we miss Mauro Rosales and obviously not having [Alvaro] Fernandez today as well because those are the two guys that serve our play-making type of players and breaking down a defense that bunkers in is something what Mauro is very good at. So for us, once we got the goal it forced them to come forward a little bit and then the spaces were there for us to be able to attack."
(On if there is anyone that he thinks would have been more unlikely to score a goal tonight than Zach Scott...) "Michael Gspurning. I think he'd probably be a little more unlikely. Zach's forward, he's one of the better headers of the ball and we try and get good set pieces in. I thought Alex Caskey, who we gave a lot of responsibility to in his first game, not only was he out there on the field, but we said, 'Hit the corners for us.' He hits a very good corner, drives the ball very well and it was just a well-timed run. I'm just very happy for Zach."
(On Eddie Johnson's first start for the Sounders...) "It was good. I thought we got a good 60 minutes out of him, which is important because now we can start building in-game fitness. I think his ability to hold the ball, there were times when he was really close to breaking in, a little bit of that is going to take timing, a little bit of that is understanding his teammates as well. If he would of maybe had a couple of those chances late that Ochoa had, when he's 90 minutes fit I think Eddie's pace will allow him to finish those situations. I was pleased with what he did."
(On if he has a concern that Fredy Montero has not got in on the scoring yet this season...) "Well, he's ending up dropping deep a little bit for us and part of that is because Mauro [Rosales] is not on the field, so he's taking a little more of that playmaking on to his shoulders. There's times where I think he could save himself some punishment by just getting rid of the ball maybe a step sooner, but as a result of holding it he ends up getting beat up a lot by the opponent. He drew some fouls for us in dangerous situations that set up free kicks for us that allowed us to be dangerous, too. So overall, I think his impact on the game was a positive one and his role ends up being a little bit different, especially without Flaco [Alvaro Fernandez] out there and without Mauro out there. The guys are still not sure how much [Alex] Caskey is going to provide. I think as he plays a little more guys are going to understand that he can play-make a little bit, too, and do some things. He [Caskey] had a good left-footed effort that if it doesn't get blocked it might be dangerous."
(On moving David Estrada to the midfield...) "Well, we felt Eddie [Johnson] was ready to come, we felt that David could play on the outside of midfield - that's where he played at the end of last season for us, and I thought he had an effective game out there. There's about 15 minutes there where I thought he lost his impact a little bit, but then he found it again and was unlucky maybe not to get a goal - it got deflected and went sort of long on the shot, but he can run the line. He helps us out there defensively, but he's also a guy who can get in at the back post and that's something - changing the point of attack, finding the runners at the deep post - is something that we've got to get better at."
Zach Scott - Sounders FC Defender
(On the goal...) "Obviously, we work on set plays quite a bit. We've got a big team. We've got guys that can deliver some good service, so it's just a matter of putting the ball in the right spot and [Alex] Caskey swung in a great ball. I was able to find the area that they left open and just put a little bit of a deflection on it."
(On the last time he scored a goal...) "I don't even know. It's got to be at least five years."
(On the play of the defense...) "I think it's just being comfortable with each other. Everybody's working hard. Everyone knows if you make a mistake there's going to be someone there to cover you. Communication has been good. Obviously when we break down, Mike [Gspurning] is there to clean it up. I think it's exciting to solidify the defense."
Michael Gspurning - Sounders FC Goalkeeper
(On the game...) "The win is okay for us. We were unlucky not to score in the first half. Then, in the end, we should have made another goal to finish the game up. It's okay. It's another win and we're happy with this."
(On the good defensive play of late...) "It's great work what the defense is doing, all the guys in front of me. So thank you very much to the guys. It's the job of the whole team. Also Fredy [Montero] and Eddie [Johnson] or who's playing up front, they create, run after balls and win tackles in their half, so it's much easier to start defending on our half when they defend in their half. It's the success of the whole team."
(On Zach Scott scoring a goal...) "It's great. He's such a physical player and he goes for those headers like there is no tomorrow. It's normal that he would score in this situation because if you're going like there's no tomorrow, then someday you'll have success. We're very, very happy for him."
Osvaldo Alonso - Sounders FC Midfielder
(On getting hit from behind by Brian Mullan and what his thoughts were...) "It wasn't a big deal. He came from behind and kicked me from the back. I reacted a little aggressively but it's a normal football thing and nothing to worry about."
(On the foul by Mullan and his reaction to it being only due to the foul, not who was committing the foul...) "No, it was just the foul. It could have been anybody."
(On the defensive effort and posting a shutout...) "Very happy about us being able to keep the zero throughout the game and I think we did a good job defensively."
Alex Caskey - Sounders FC Midfielder
(On his first MLS assist...) "That was extremely exciting. I found out later that that was Zach's first goal so it made me feel even better. And then, of course, it was great to get the win at home."
(On how he found out he would get the start today, his first in MLS...) "We were waiting to see how Flaco [Alvaro Fernandez] was feeling. They told me yesterday just, 'Be ready, and if he's not ready to go, then we'll put you in there.' So I found out today when I got here."
(On his thoughts when he found out he'd get the start...) "I've just got to get mentally prepared and ready to go, start thinking about who I'm playing against and where I'm playing and just get ready to go."
(On how he felt about how he played and if he felt active...) "That was what I was hoping to bring was my energy and work rate and then hopefully just use that intensity to try to make something happen for the team."
(On his skill-set and handling the corners for the team today...) "That's something I can bring to the team would be deliveries from the wings or free kicks and just having a high work-rate."
(On what the first few minutes of the game were like...) "Pretty fast. It takes a little getting used to the speed of play and the intensity of the MLS game."
Oscar Pareja - Colorado Rapids Head Coach
(On the game...) "I liked the first half, we looked very solid. I was trying to get a better performance in the first half this game and I saw it. It was very positive, in the second half we weren't as consistent as we were in the first. Going forward we need to beat LA. I saw a lot of intensity and courage in the first half. We need to be more dangerous and create options to score. At the end of the day that's going to give you points."
(On the Brian Mullan situation...) "I think he is a great professional, things like this are just part of the game.I was very proud of Brian today and to be honest with you we didn't talk with Brian at any point in the week about that. We were worried about the game."
"I thought it was one of his best games of the season."
(On Goalkeeper Matt Pickens...) "Matt had a couple of saves that shows he is a good player."
(On the corner kick that led to the goal...) "[I am] Disappointed. At this level we can't afford those mistakes. We need to reflect, that was the game."
Brian Mullan - Colorado Rapids Forward
(On sleeping last night...) "Apprehensive is the best word for it. There are a lot of great fans in this city as well as a lot of nerves leading up to the game. I applaud the fans, they did a good job and conducted themselves professionally and consistently with their reputation."
(On communication with Zakuani...) "Through intermediaries I have tried to setup a face to face apology. He was very open to it but it has not happened as of yet."
(On Zakuani recovering...) "I wouldn't say it [has made it] easier. Do not get me wrong I'm pleased, I want him back on the field more than anybody. He's a great player and for that to happen to him on my watch is something that I will never live down."
(On his original post-game comment about the tackle being routine...) "I do not know if you have watched me play since then but it has completely changed my game. When I made that comment I had no idea the extent of his injury. Right after the tackle I did not even see him. I had no idea of the extent until I was leaving the stadium and the team chaplain told me the extent."
(On learning from the incident...) "You know the only thing that helps is I know what to expect now, that's about it."
Drew Moor - Colorado Rapids Midfielder
(On the fans' response to Brian Mullen...) "To be honest I thought the fans were great and they did exactly what we expected. We did not expect them to be nice to him but I had forgotten about it for the most part. You heard the boos whenever he touched the ball. That is part of the game sometimes and I thought the fans were great."
(Thoughts coming into the week...) "The main focus was winning the game. We're all Brian's family here but we do not put it behind us either. The focus was points and we're disappointed to leave with nothing. We always supported him and there were no issues.
(General comments on the game...) "I thought we did exactly what we wanted to do in the first half. We came in and matched their intensity. We were better than them at times in the first half, created some chances. Our inability to create and possess in the second half wasn't good enough today. To give up a set piece goal is a bad goal to give away, we're leaving here disappointed and have to fix things like that."
(On being 3-3 so far...) "The last 4 of 5 have been on the road in tough places to play. If you break each game down individually you feel like we should have a better record than we do now, especially after today's match. We came in the first half and did exactly what we wanted to do and to give up a soft goal... good for them but our record should be better than it is right now."
(On the upcoming game against LA...) "They're having a tough go with it right now, they have a big one tonight or tomorrow against Portland. We have to put this one behind us and fix the mistakes that we made. We obviously have to stay focused for 90 minutes whether it's on a set piece or open play but they're a dangerous team. It's a great opportunity to put this one behind us and move forward."