Where to even start? The Seattle Sounders have been looking for a feel-good win ever since claiming the U.S. Open Cup. They got it in a big way on Sunday against the Colorado Rapids, winning 4-1 and exorcising the demons of last year's 5-1 loss that came in the stadium exactly one year earlier.
It wasn't just the scoreline that got the feels going, either. Even before Clint Dempsey opened the scoring with a well executed Panenka, the Sounders were creating chances. But then Obafemi Martins scored a beautiful goal after slamming on the air brakes, Marco Pappa scored a Goal of the Year contender after taking a back-heel from Dempsey and Lamar Neagle did his best Zlatan Ibrahimovic impression (only to have it ruled offside). Speaking of which, there was a whole category of highlights that weren't goals; Neagle's volley, Osvaldo Alonso's blast from 50 yards and, of course, Dempsey side volley off a chip from Oba. It was an amazing performance, frankly.
The defense wasn't stellar, especially on the goal, but they were good enough. And with the way the offense is playing right now, that could be all it takes. It should also be said that, like last week, the defense was much better in the second half.
Now, let's go win the Cascadia Cup.
SEA- Clint Dempsey (penalty) 11'
SEA- Obafemi Martins (Marco Pappa) 28'
SEA- Marco Pappa (Clint Dempsey) 33'
COL- Deshorn Brown 43'
SEA- Obafemi Martins (Lamar Neagle) 70'
Seattle Sounders FC - Stefan Frei, DeAndre Yedlin, Chad Marshall, Jalil Anibaba, Brad Evans-C, Lamar Neagle (Kenny Cooper 86'), Michel Azira, Osvaldo Alonso, Marco Pappa (Andy Rose 76'), Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins
Substitutes Not Used: Marcus Hahnemann, Djimi Traore, Sean Okioli, Chad Barrett, Dylan Remick
TOTAL SHOTS: 14 (Deshorn Brown, 7); SHOTS ON GOAL 4: (Deshorn Brown, 7); FOULS: 13 (6 tied at 2); OFFSIDE: 1 (Deshorn Brown, 1); CORNER KICKS: 3 (Vicente Sanchez, 2); SAVES: 2 (Clint Irwin, 2).
Colorado Rapids - Clint Irwin, Chris Klute (Marlon Hairston 74'), Shane O'Neill, Marvell Wynne (Zat Knight 45'), Marc Burch, Vicente Sanchez (Dillon Serna 59'), Jose Mari, Nick LaBrocca, Dillon Powers, Deshorn Brown, Gabriel Torres
Substitutes Not Used: Joe Nasco, Thomas Piermayr, Edson Buddle, Kamani Hill
TOTAL SHOTS: 13 (Clint Dempsey, 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 6 (Obafemi Martins, 2); FOULS: 7 (2 tied at 2); OFFSIDE: 1 (Lamar Neagle, 1); CORNER KICKS: 7 (Marco Pappa, 3); SAVES: 3 (Stefan Frei, 3).
SEA- Brad Evans (caution) 21'
COL- Shane O'Neill (caution) 44'
COL- Nick LaBrocca (caution) 63'
SEA- Marco Pappa (caution) 75'
Referee: Edvin Jurisevic
Referee's Assistants: Sean Hurd, Mike Kampmeinert
4th Official: Tyler Ploeger
Weather: Mostly Sunny and 70 Degrees
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial
Sigi Schmid, Seattle Sounders head coach
On the match overall:
Obviously, I thought it was a good game for us, I thought we played really well the first 35 minutes. I think they had a couple of good chances, Deshorn Brown's header where he gets behind Anibaba, you know, was a good look, and there was another good look that they had there as well. But outside of that, I thought our counter was really dangerous. We scored our goals, we had some other chances along the way. I thought the last six seven minutes of the first half, we gave the game back to them a little bit, but then the second half I thought we were really professional about what we needed to do, you know, we kept possession, we could have probably scored three or four in the second half, and we did a good job of keeping them off the board.
On if they felt they needed to respond to LA Galaxy's result the day before:
I don't think we needed to respond, we just feel that we are a team that... we've been in first place for a while now, we don't want to give it up, and we wanted to get the three points today. We are at 19 wins now and we want to keep going.
On the importance of the defense keeping the Rapids scoreless in the second half and building on that for the last three games
It was important, we talked at halftime about maintaining our concentration and our focus. We talked about the first 15 minutes of the second half being very important. So I thought the guys did a good job of getting behind. I thought Micheal Azira did a good job in connection with Alonso in the middle of midfield today. I thought we were a lot more aware of the spaces behind. Obviously, coming here playing in the heat of the day, playing at altitude, you know, we didn't want to push the tempo of the game all that much, so we said, "let them have the ball deep in their end of the field," so that's why possession, I think they might have had a little more possession than us, but we just let them have the ball in that back part.
On what they did differently to mark up on Deshorn Brown:
Nothing, I think they helped us out in the second half because they went to a 4-3-3 and they pushed Deshorn out to the left wing, so it just became an easier matchup for us.
Brad Evans, Seattle Sounders FC defender
On how crucial the three points were:
This week we had the advantage, knowing all of the results last night, especially that last one with LA, so it truly is going to be a battle until the end. Thinking about earlier in the season, we had a 10 point cushion, we knew that wasn't going to be that easy, it's never going to be that easy. So we came in today, put in a real workman-like performance and did what we needed to do in the first half, and locked it down in the second half, and kept the pressure. We moved the ball so well, it was just a good result for us.
How the defense builds off of the shutout in the second half moving forward:
The first one is, you get caught on the 2-v-1 and then it takes a small deflection. Sometimes you can't do much about that, you know, we'll look at it again. Other situations in the game I thought that we handled really well. Some of their pressure free-kicks, some other through balls, blocking crosses, blocking shots, so some good stuff that we can take away from this game, and certainly hope to build on in at the right time going in to these last three games.
Marco Pappa, Seattle Sounders FC midfielder
On how he was able to get so involved in the attack:
It felt good to score, it's better to see the team happy with the three points, especially playing away. How difficult it is, the position is now with the Galaxy and everything, but we know we also have a good team and we are doing good so I'm happy, and I'm sure everybody is happy today with the three points away.
On if they paid attention to LA's game last night needing to stay on pace with them:
I mean, of course you see the result, that's how it works, but you don't worry about them, you worry about us. Like I said, we were sharp today and we finished pretty good the options we had, so we are happy with that. Now we have some days to come back home and some days to have some good rest and we are looking forward for the next game against the Whitecaps.
On his goal:
It was a good combination, you know, a good combination with players with great technique. I saw Clint [Dempsey] coming to me so I tried to play some combination, and when I was in front of the keeper, I just liked to cut it because I'm not as good with my left foot so I cut it and then I decided to chip it, so of course I was happy to score a goal, but like I said, I'm more happy to be in the team and see the team happy.
On how the two- and three-men combination play helps the team's attack:
You're right. It was helping us with the confidence for sure. Confidence is very important, so we know we are in first place because we can in the beginning have good games and everything, so yeah for confidence, it's pretty good. I hope we can continue this and we can get stronger for the playoffs.
Pablo Mastroeni, Colorado Rapids Head Coach
On today's game:
I think they out-competed us today and that's one thing we've done really well this year - being able to compete. They've got some class players that can make a big difference on that team but the first 15 minutes of the game we didn't set the kind of tone that we needed to set to play against these kind of teams and really make it difficult for them. We were just chasing the game from the beginning. The mindset wasn't there from the get-go and that was the disappointing part. There's enough blame to go around and it starts right here. I don't blame anyone, I look at it like what can I do better as a coach, what can my staff do better.
On the mindset of the players:
Be able to pass the ball, not over dribble... If I had told you how the week went in training you would have thought we'd come out flying. I think there were a couple bad decisions on the ball. Credit to them, they're good players and they make you defend. If you're not in sync, as we learned, they'll make you pay. The week in training was really good and you would have thought we'd have a much better start to the game but it's about game day and making sure those first couple passes are complete, and those first tackles that you make really set the tone against a team like this - we weren't able to do that. We found ourselves chasing it quite often.
On the confidence of the team and moving forward:
You can't deny human nature. These guys aren't playing with the most confidence - how can you when you haven't won a game in two months. It makes it that much more difficult. My job the past two months has been to be very upbeat, really positive and focus on the good things that we're doing. We've had some good performances sporadically mixed in there but, it's that piano on your back. You start saying "can we ever win?" I only know one way and that's just to keep working hard, keep going. I think we've got a great group and I think we've shown that this year, we're capable of playing against the big teams. Unfortunately today, we just got off to a bad start.
On Zat Knight:
Zat brought a bit of calm and a bit of experience to the group and that was pretty evident with the way things went. It kept the game more in front of us as opposed to letting them get behind which was one of the points I made at halftime. So how do we now rebound here with the right mindset and attack the next game with that. I think Zat coming in did sure some things up but you can't rely on one person to make that kind of difference.
On Clint Irwin:
The moment that I felt, and Chris Sharpe felt, that his performance day in and day out in training was at a certain level - like we said at the beginning - he'll get another opportunity. He comes into a game, and it's a difficult game and we asked him to make a lot of big saves. He came up with a few, but we find ourselves in this conundrum. For me, Clint has proven that he's more than capable of being that stalwart in goal.
Zat Knight, Colorado Rapids defender
On the results:
The first 45, it was frustrating to watch from the side. I felt we kind of gifted them a few goals. I know they have some good movement with Clint Dempsey and Obafemi, but I felt we could have done a bit better. I know it's that time in the season where the boys' heads are down, they haven't won in a long time and they're playing against a very good team. It was hard to pick themselves up, but from the sideline it was very frustrating.
On what he sees in the team:
You can see, any team - no matter who you are - you could be the best team in the world. If you've gone on a winless streak the way they have, your confidence is going to be down. They've got a good spirit. Everybody spoke about that spirit and the boys are trying. They've got a young team. It would be nice for them to have one or two more senior players around to help them through, but that's not what it is at the moment and hopefully next season they can recruit one or two to help them, because I feel like they have got some good players in there.
On being vocal with the younger players:
That just comes naturally to me. The last team I left I was a captain there. I've was a captain at Fulham. I'm experienced and I've learned as a defender that you have to be vocal. Being 6-foot-6 it would be a shame if I never spoke. When I was young, I had senior players doing that to me so hopefully I can do that for Shane and the rest of the boys.
On how he felt playing today:
It was nice to get the 45 in. I haven't played in a while as has been well documented. I've had a good few days training, it was nice to get the 45 minutes. I was kind of being headstrong and wanted to start the game but the manager was more like "I don't want you to blow up and obviously we had a bad 45 minutes so just get out there and do what you can." It was nice to try and keep the score down a little bit.
Dillon Powers, Colorado Rapids midfielder
On whether the losses are harder to handle now as the captain:
Yeah, I think so. You can kind of feel the extra responsibility, but having the said that I think the older guys have made it clear that they're here to lean on and take some of the responsibility.
On what Zat Knight adds to the team:
I think he has a lot of experience and he has a lot of respect, especially from defenders. You seem him every day, he's working with, especially the center backs. Especially Shane [O'Neill]. ‘This is how it should be done, this is how I do it,' I think Shane is learning a lot already and he'll tell you the same thing. I think he keeps us pretty organized.
On his new contract and continuing with the club:
I said it before, but from the day I walked in the door it's this club. From top to bottom I feel like there's a real desire to grow and be a top organization. I think there's a realization that we're not quite there yet but I'm excited to be a key part of growing it into what it can be. It's something that I felt like I did in my time in college and I'm excited to do it again.
On injuries, suspensions, etc. to keep players out of the lineup adding to the losing streak:
Yeah, I think that's a true. Especially with a guy like Drew who's been a leader on this team for so long and he brings some intangible things to the team. Everyone says injuries aren't an excuse and that's the mentality, you know, it doesn't matter, next man up and that's a good mentality to have but it does make it hard when you have some constant changes and guys in and out. To answer your question, I think yes.
Clint Irwin, Colorado Rapids goalkeeper
On returning to the starting lineup
I was happy to be back out there. Unfortunately, the result wasn't in our favor. That's kind of been the story for the last however many games. It's good to be back out there, I wish it could have been a win but we just have to get ready for the next game. There's nothing we can do about it now.
On the coaching staff giving him the nod:
They just said, "You're in the starting eleven, get ready to play" and that's what I did.
On his performance:
I wish some of those saves could have come earlier in the game to keep it closer. Came up with a couple of saves in the second half, at that point though the game is already gone and it's just damage control. I thought I did alright, but it doesn't really matter with the score the way it is.
On having Zat and his veteran presence on the field:
Yeah, it helped a lot I think. We were just a lot more organized, he was talking to everyone around him, keeping them in good spots, and at the same time playing well himself. He made a huge difference as soon as he came on. I know we gave up one goal but that was improvement from the first half. I thought he was just a great presence back there and he was listening to other people around him to and playing at a high level. It was really good to have him back there. I think he's someone who's played at such a high level that he is able to take on the information and give it out to other people and still play at the same time. That's something that, with Drew [Moor] out, he's another one of those guys who can do that. So I think that's something that really helps guys around him. He's able to make people better around him and I think we saw that in the second half.