Saturday night's game will be remembered for sometime as Steve Zakuani's first game back. What may be overlooked in our memories is that the Seattle Sounders won. They did so by passing the ball better then they have for some time. While both goals came (directly and indirectly) out of dead ball situations, it was the flow of the team that was special. Both Alvaro Fernandez and Mauro Rosales played like the men they were in 2011, while Eddie Johnson is making his 2007 seem like a prelude to something special. The highlights do show some weaknesses in defense, but they were minor and infrequent.
The Sounders dominated in creating scoring opportunities (6 to 3 on target, 3 blocked to 0). Osvaldo Alonso's return to the starting lineup shows up clearly in the duels won percentages (55%). Seattle's passing was a strong 81% completion (though lower than the Rapids). Yes, the possession numbers were against the Sounders, but considering a strong 2-nil lead at the 64th minute and the lack of threatening attacks by Colorado it would be a shame to focus on that number. Fernandez completed 86% of his passes, true for all sectors of the pitch. In the final third Rosales didn't have that accuracy (crosses being notoriously difficult to complete), but he did have 1 assist and 3 key passes.
Sigi Schmid talks about the importance of the win, the formation used this evening with it's adjustment to face the Rapids' 4-3-3 and of course Zakuani. Mauro and Eddie talk about the importance of stopping the winless streak and Zakuani. The quotes you may want to read the most though are those of the man of the night. Steve explains why he exchanged jerseys with Brian Mullan;
I have said from day one that I do not have any issues with him. I forgave him a long time ago, but I think it is good for the public to see, for closure. Now I think that he can go on with his career and I can start to do the same. I have a lot of work to do to play consistently well. He took my shirt home and I am taking his shirt home and I think that chapter is closed now.
With the other results of the evening Seattle's 30 points in 19 played move them to 7 behind San Jose in the Supporters' Shield race. They are even on points with the Whitecaps for 3rd in the West. Their next game is Wednesday the 11th against Chivas USA in the Open Cup.
SEA - Alvaro Fernandez (Mauro Rosales) 52'
SEA - Eddie Johnson (Mauro Rosales) 64'
COL - Omar Cummings (Luis Zapata) 79'
Seattle Sounders FC: Byran Meredith, Adam Johansson, Jeff Parke, Pat Ianni, Marc Burch, Alex Caskey, Osvaldo Alonso, Mauro Rosales (Steve Zakuani 86), Andy Rose, Alvaro Fernandez (Cordell Cato 79), Eddie Johnson (Fredy Montero 72).
Substitutes Not Used: Josh Ford, Servando Carrasco, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Zach Scott.
TOTAL SHOTS: 14 (Fernandez, 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (Fernandez, 3); FOULS: 4 (Four players, 1); OFFSIDE: 4 (Fernandez, 2); CORNER KICKS: 10 (Rosales, 10); SAVES: 2 (Meredith, 2).
Colorado Rapids: Matt Pickens, Hunter Freeman, Marvell Wynne, Drew Moor, Luis Zapata, Jeff Larentowicz, Jaime Castrillon (Tony Cascio 84), Martin Rivero, Brian Mullan, Jamie Smith (Omar Cummings 67), Conor Casey (Edu 67).
Substitutes Not Used: Steward Ceus, Joseph Nane, Tyrone Marshall, Wells Thompson.
TOTAL SHOTS: 6 (Rivero, 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (Three players, 1); FOULS: 12 (Larentowicz, 3); OFFSIDE: 4 (Four players, 1); CORNER KICKS: 2 (Rivero, 2); SAVES: 3 (Pickens, 3).
COL - Martin Rivero (caution) 41'
SEA - Eddie Johnson (caution) 64'
Referee: Kevin Stott
Referee's Assistants: Adam Wienckowski, Brian Poeschel
4th Official: Mark Declouet
Time of Game: 1:51
Weather: Sunny and 73 degrees
All Statistics contained in the boxscore are unoffical.
POSTGAME QUOTES: Sounders FC vs. Colorado Rapids
Sigi Schmid - Sounders FC Head Coach
(Opening...) "It's nice to get three points. I guess the rumors of our demise we're maybe a little bit premature, but I thought for at times today we played some good soccer. The soccer caught up a little bit, which is what I had been saying. As long as we keep fighting and battling and become a tough team to beat our soccer will get back to where it was and tonight for good stretches of time I thought our soccer was good. The last 15-20 minutes of the game became a little bit hectic, especially when we gave up that goal. I was a little bit disappointed. We had some chances. Flaco's [Alvaro Fernandez's] breakaway - maybe a PK there, so some opportunities there that could have gotten us a goal or two extra. So we were in a little bit of a scrape. And at the end of the game there was a decision - tactfully was it the right decision? No, but I wanted to get Steve Zakuani on the park and get him some minutes and I thought it worked out well because he was able to get on the field and get some minutes because it's been a long time and it's good for that to happen for him."
(On how big it was getting a win today...) "It's big. I think now we're on a three-game undefeated streak, is that the way it works now (laughs)? Statistics you can turn them around any way you want to and make it appear that you're brilliant. I was an economics major, so I know how statistics work. But for us it was important. It was important to get the win. It was important to get back home. It would have been nice to have it be 2-0 or 3-0 and be a lot cleaner than it was, but I was pleased overall. I thought there were more bright spots tonight than there were not bright spots and I thought our team - as I said at times - showed very well. And it was nice to see Flaco get his first goal of the year off the corner kick and Mauro [Rosales] and Eddie Johnson's combination was very similar to the goal that we scored in New England, so obviously there's a relationship that's developing there and timing that's starting to come along there as well."
(On the formation they ran tonight...) "Formation was no different. We just played Mauro [Rosales] in the role that Fredy [Montero] plays normally. They were in a four-three-three, so as a result we told [Alex] Caskey and Mauro to push-in, push-out between the two of them and they worked off of each other fairly well. So at the times that Mauro went wide you saw Alex was inside. There was good cover and I thought the energy in terms of the combination play between Eddie [Johnson] and Mauro and Flaco and Caskey as well, and [Andy] Rose coming through at times, was very good. So it was a situation that we just felt that this was the lineup that would be good for tonight."
(On what it was like watching Steve Zakuani on the field...) "For sure the eruption of the crowd was as loud as I think I've ever heard here. It was fantastic. I was still caught in the emotion of the game, so I didn't allow myself to think a lot about Steve getting back out there and the period of time and maybe the appropriateness of coming back on the field against Colorado. I'm sure he would have enjoyed some more touches and be able to go at some people and get on the flank, but he's got the first one out of the way so we can go from there. It's a pretty emotional time because he's come through a lot and suffered a lot with his injury."
(On if the late goal would have been allowed and changed his decision as to whether or not to play Zakuani...) "I might have sat on it for a second longer as well. We were also concerned about [Adam] Johansson because he said his hamstring was starting to tighten up, so we were thinking about holding a sub there. I'm glad the goal didn't count. That would have been a shame for us not to have won the game tonight because I thought on the whole we were the better team. But I just felt good things were going to happen. I lost my wallet this morning at Starbucks and they found it, so I figured it was a good omen."
(On what is next for Zakuani...) "Everything is just one week at a time. He continues to work. We'll see what the situation is Wednesday, whether that's a game that we think fits him. There's still a possibility of us maybe loaning him, so he can get some more minutes in a period of time. But right now he's got to be full in training and continuing to show what he can do in training every day."
(On if tonight provided a sense of closure to Zakuani's injury...) "Hopefully it provides an end to it. I don't know if closure is the right word. I think it's been closed for awhile. I think people have moved on, but it sort of provides a venue for everybody to see the completion of the cycle."
(On Zakuani and Mullan exchanging jerseys after the game...) "I didn't see that. I know Brian came up to me and we shook hands. We really didn't exchange words, but I saw Brian was emotional at that point. But I didn't see that they had exchanged jerseys. Like I said, I coached Brian. I drafted him. I know where he is at his heart and I know this situation has truly bothered him as well for a long time. So maybe that's a good situation for both of them to have accomplished that."
Steve Zakuani - Sounders FC Midfielder
(On finally being back...) "I am honestly overwhelmed. I tried to visualize what that moment would be like for almost a year. It was something I can't describe. Those fans are something else, and I think that they out did themselves tonight. I am emotional obviously and it is a great emotional check mark in my mind. I am also happy the team won. It is a great night for the Sounders organization all around."
(On exchanging jerseys with Brian Mullan after the game...) "I went up to a bunch of their players and I went up to him as well. I think that it is good. I have said from day one that I do not have any issues with him. I forgave him a long time ago, but I think it is good for the public to see, for closure. Now I think that he can go on with his career and I can start to do the same. I have a lot of work to do to play consistently well. He took my shirt home and I am taking his shirt home and I think that chapter is closed now.
(On the emotions when Coach Schmid called him in to play...) "I was kind of just watching the clock to see when it would come. They told me I was going to come in when it was two nil and I thought no way, we are just going to keep the ball and make them chase it. Then they scored, so when I came in I was doing a lot more defending than I expected. I was just so happy to get out there and run. It was amazing, it was a moment that I will have to go home and watch on tv to see what actually happened. It is just a blur right now."
Mauro Rosales - Sounders FC Midfielder
(On ending the nine-game winless streak...) "Today was a great day because it was in front of our fans and they deserved this win. We played very hard, we played with heart today, and I think it was good for us to break that long road we've had without winning. Nothing better than playing in front of our fans...we wanted to give some prize to them because they make too much effort to us going everywhere. Today the stadium was full and this was something we were waiting for to give to them."
(On getting a win...) "After nine games without winning the most important thing was the team played with quality today in the field. This is something we have to be proud of and take the good things we did today and figure out fast our mistakes."
(On Steve Zakuani making his return...) "Very good, very good. I think he enjoyed it because he was waiting for this moment a long time ago, and we are very happy that he came with a win that we deserved...I can't imagine coming back after one year and a few months. It was tough, but today he won against Colorado."
Eddie Johnson - Sounders FC Forward
(On getting a win in front of the home crowd...) "It's good. We hadn't won in nine games, and it says a lot about this city, this organization, the fans--how passionate they are, how much they're behind us. Coming out in warmups, having not won in nine games, and it's still packed, you couldn't ask for a better motivation. You couldn't ask for way to pay our fans back after not winning in the last nine games. It was a great win, well fought battle by the team, and we deserved it to win the game tonight."
(On his goal and a good team offensive output...) "I think Mauro has four assists on my goals. I think that just repetition--playing games, playing with certain people, and getting an understanding of what they like to do when they get the ball. I think Mauro and I are starting to build a good relationship. You know when he has the ball out wide, he's going to do one thing--he's going to whip the ball in the box. I just wanted to be alert and be dangerous in the box when the ball comes in and I was able to get on the end of it."
(On when Steve Zakuani came on the field...) "Man, that's the loudest I've ever heard it. That's the loudest I've ever heard a stadium. I've been playing 11 years of soccer and that's the loudest I've ever heard a stadium. It was good for him to get back, he's worked hard. We saw his ups and downs battling and coming back. He's feeling good and he's only going to help us out as an attacking option in the second part of the season."
Oscar Pareja - Colorado Rapids Head Coach
(General thoughts on the game...) "I thought it was an exciting game for the fans. We saw two teams that gave everything on the field and that's good for the game. I'm disappointed obviously for us since we didn't get the result we were looking for. We gave too many corners and ended up paying for that."
(On the last 20-25 minutes...) "I thought it was a normal reaction, a team taking more risks with a couple of guys with fresh legs and that's what happens. It's been difficult for the boys to play three games in almost a week, so the guys who came from the bench gave us a spark. I thought the game was better for us in the last 25 minutes."
(On the offsides call that took away a goal...) "I didn't see it, it's hard for me to say. The boys said they didn't see anything, so we wanted it. We just didn't see it."
(On the attempted comeback...) "Playing in Seattle is always difficult. The team that we put on the field today was taking into the plan, being organized and trying to control the tempo. Seattle did a good job in the first 15 minutes of the game but our team reacted well for the rest of the game. I'm disappointed because we gave up too many corners and set pieces and ended up paying for that. Our team gave a good reaction in the last 25 minutes, for sure.
(On Rosales and Fernandez on the field) "Yeah good players always make it difficult for our team, for sure. I think it was a pretty even match for them."
Omar Cummings - Colorado Rapids Forward
(On the team turning it around after subbing in...) "That's what coach wants any sub to do. Add some energy, take on defenders and get the best positions. I think we definitely put some higher pressure on Seattle and got our chances."
(On the the atmosphere...) "Starting next week we have to put this behind us and try and be competitive in practice and play hard. Keep moving on, keep growing as a team."
Drew Moor - Colorado Rapids Defender
(On the match...) "It's always a tough place to come play. Seattle put some pressure on us early in the game and I felt like the second part of the second half we started to find possession and take some chances. Unfortunately it's set pieces that did us in here again. You can play solid for the majority of the game and if you give away a set piece goal it takes away all the energy you put into it."