We had seen this all before: The Seattle Sounders dominate possession, struggle to generate quality chance and still manage to grab a lead early in the first half. In fact, it was the Sounders' last home game when we saw it and we all remember how that ended in frustration. Perhaps in a sign how the Sounders may be over their midseason swoon, they made it stand up with a 1-0 win over the Colorado Rapids on Saturday.
The Rapids had come in with a significantly depleted lineup and mired in a five-game losing streak. The Sounders were riding high on last week's win over the Portland Timbers. As expected, the Sounders dominated possession and chances, but still went into halftime tied 0-0.
But Clint Dempsey, as he so often has been, proved to be the difference. His shinned volley off a Marco Pappa corner kick easily beat Rapids goalkeeper Joe Nasco and the Sounders' defense made it stand up.
It wasn't a full dominant performance that will make everyone suddenly forget about the earlier struggles, but the Sounders needed three points in order to provide a bit of breathing room in the Supporters' Shield standings and they managed to do enough. And, to be fair, it easily could have been more. Obafemi Martins struck an open shot off the underside of the crossbar, Nasco made a great save on Brad Evans from point-blank range, there were a couple timely tackles in the box and Chad Barrett would have had a look at a wide-open net if he had been able to control a rebound late in the match.
The Sounders defense, it should also be said, had one of its better performances as well. Stefan Frei was never really tested and only even had to make two saves while registering his eighth shutout of the season.
And even though Nasco only had to make five saves, the Sounders did enough against a defense that was happy to drop 10 men behind the ball. If anything, the Sounders may have been guilty of looking a bit too hard for good looks -- in contrast to the earlier Earthquakes result in which they fired at will -- but it was obviously enough.