A week after outplaying the LA Galaxy only to fall 1-0, the Seattle Sounders may have gotten those points back. Despite the Colorado Rapids firing off 27 shots and creating an astounding 21 chances (according to Opta), the Sounders managed to pull off a 3-1 win on Saturday.
The main reason was a couple of brilliant strikes from Lamar Neagle and Obafemi Martins and some outstanding goalkeeping by Stefan Frei. Neagle's first goal was exactly the kind of thing we'd all like to see more of, not just because it featured an impressive curling shot, but because it came from the wing and completed an absolutely gorgeous counter-strike sequence:
Ignore for a second that it starts with the Sounders getting a bit lucky and instead focus on the first touch Neagle uses to get it going, a back-heeled pass that finds Clint Dempsey, who's between two defenders. Also, check out Martins' run that gets the attention of three defenders, opening up space for Neagle. Absolutely gorgeous stuff.
Martins' goal featured an even better first touch and finish:
Colorado Rapids 1-3 Seattle Sounders FC
April 18, 2015 - Dicks Sporting Goods Park
SEA: Lamar Neagle (Dempsey) 5'
COL: Gaby Torres (Powers) 22'
SEA: Lamar Neagle 25'
SEA: Obafemi Martins (Rose) 73'
COLORADO RAPIDS: Clint Irwin, Michael Harrington, Bobby Burling, Drew Moor, James Riley (Dillon Serna 80'), Dillon Powers, Lucas Pittinari, Vicente Sánchez (Nick LaBrocca 66'), Juan Ramírez, Marcelo Sarvas, Gabriel Torres.
Subs not used: Zac MacMath, Ben Newnam, Shane O'Neill, Axel Sjoberg, Jared Watts.
SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC: Stefan Frei, Dylan Remick, Tyrone Mears, Chad Marshall, Brad Evans, Andy Rose (Leonardo González 89'), Osvaldo Alonso, Lamar Neagle, Marco Pappa (Cristian Roldan 81'), Clint Dempsey (Gonzalo Pineda 70'), Obafemi Martins.
Subs not used: Troy Perkins, Zach Scott, Chad Barrett, Micheal Azira.
SEA: Chad Marshall (caution) 14'
SEA: Andy Rose (caution) 66'
SEA: Tyrone Mears (caution) 74'
Colorado Rapids: 1-2-3 (6 points)
Seattle Sounders FC: 3-2-1 (10 points)
Seattle Sounders Head Coach, Sigi Schmid
On the match...
I thought Colorado played very well tonight. I though the first half they really took it to us. We did well by finishing opportunities that we had and they had a couple other chances and some chances to counter, so being up at half, we felt a little fortunate. I thought in the second half, we played much better. I thought they still got around our goal, but their chances were mainly shots from distance, wasn't that much on goal anymore. We had a couple of good looks in the second half. I thought we got forward really well and sometimes getting chances isn't necessarily reflected in shots, you are just missing opportunities. Then Oba[femi Martins] scores a fantastic goal to make it 3-1 and we were able to take it from there.
On what defensive adjustments were made for the second half...
Defense it two-fold, you've got to keep the ball too. I don't think we did a good job of keeping the ball and as a result of that a lot of their players who don't like to defend a lot didn't have to defend at all because we weren't holding onto the ball enough. I thought in the second half when we held onto the ball more, then all of a sudden Sanchez had to defend more, all of a sudden Ramirez had to defend a little more. We took them out of their offensive positions and made it a little bit easier for us. We also need to make sure that our blocks of four stay together because they do a lot of place changing and movement. We started following people and getting dragged to different spaces, and we kept our blocks of four together, it was harder for them to penetrate us through the middle.
On what worked differently offensively after being shutout...
Last week, as in Dallas too when we played there, we had chances to score. Last week we had a ton of chances. I think we had 10 shots on goal, this week we had 9 shots on goal so we are getting opportunities and we are putting them on goal. It's a funny game, I think we played better as a team probably last week in terms of just possession and movement the ball and creating chances, but we couldn't finish. This week it was a little less so, but we finished better.
On Lamar Neagle's game...
It was good for him. He can score goals from the wing, he doesn't have to be up front. I thought he had an uptick game last week up front and he was able to transfer that onto the wing, and you can be goal dangerous from there as well.
On Obafemi Martin's goal...
Fantastic goal. It was a great ball through from Andy Rose and then Oba makes a fantastic move and bends the ball into the corner, so it was a fantastic goal to his skill. I also think in the second half Clint Dempsey is a guy who really came into the game for us more. We had said before the game we'd only try and play him 60 because of his hamstring, but we pushed him close to 70 because he really helped us establish our rhythm in the second half, so it was good.
On winning 5 of past 6 in Colorado and if any adjustments are made because of the altitude...
My thing has always been the same since I have been coaching in this league. We try and come into Denver as close to within 24 hours of the game as possible. We try not to be in here too early or anything like that, and I think even going back to the Columbus and Galaxy days I think we had good fortune here as well. It's important than just to be organized, not to get into a big running game. As we always tell our players, the ball doesn't sweat, the ball doesn't pull a cramp, so just let the ball work.
On what kind of difference having the entire first choice lineup available made...
It was good, obviously we came back with Andy Rose instead of Pineda in midfield because I thought Andy had a good game in LA and he rewarded us with an assist today. I thought Gonzo Pineda coming in the second half really helped us settle our game a little bit in midfield. His passing was important to us, so it's always good when you can choose from your entire roster, it makes it easier.
On Stefan Frei's game...
Stefan has been solid, and I think last year, early in the season, a lot of people were saying, hey there was a mistake there or there, but I've always believed very strongly in Stefan. I believed in him very strongly from the first time I saw him play as a collegiate player. I actually saw him play before he was a collegiate player, so when we made the trade last year, I always felt he could be a real top quality starting keeper in this league and I think he is showing that this year.
On whether counter attacking was planned before the game or a natural flow of the game...
Well, one of the things we wanted to do is, we wanted to go at their defense, because we felt that was something we could get Oba and Clint isolated with the two center backs 2v2. I think Pablo has done a great job getting his team to pressure more in terms of their front and their midfield backs and I think that has really helped their defense because you really haven't been able to get at their defense. I think when we are able to get at their defense and we can be successful. We didn't want to counter maybe quite as much as we did, because we didn't keep enough possession, but certainly we are a team that can counter and when you have those two guys up there, anything is possible.
Seattle Sounders Forward, Lamar Neagle (#27)
On getting two goals after not being able to find the net the week before...
It's great to get on the board and to finally get some shots on goal last week and this week actually ended up putting some in.
On what was working differently for the offense this game...
I think I was able to get forward some more maybe a mentality change, maybe playing up top got me thinking a little different. I wanted to transition well and play a little bit more offensively on the outside as well and it kind of worked out.
On what he was seeing differently...
Just getting back into my momentum. I feel like I was making shots like that last year, so just trying to find that some momentum from last year and build off of it.
On his second goal...
I cut inside, saw Pappa so I laid it off to him, kept my run going and he played a great ball. I barely got a touch onto it, hit it straight at the keeper. It bounced back, I think it went off Riley and then around the keeper and just back to me fortunately. I stayed with it and got a little tap in.
Seattle Sounders Forward, Obafemi Martins (#9)
On his goal...
I can't even remember what I did, but Rose gave me a good ball and I don't know what I was thinking to control the ball facing our goal. I just decided to do something different so I just turned with the ball and placed it. That was one of those goals sometimes where you score a really good goal. I'm glad today that we did well and three points to take home.
On what was different after the shutout loss to LA Galaxy the week before...
All the times we play LA it's one of those tough games and we had a lot of chances and we couldn't score. LA won and we were thinking of the next game, that's what we came here to do. We got the three points and we will see how it goes in the next game.
Seattle Sounders Defender, Chad Marshall (#14)
On the defense being off in the 1st half...
I think they came out and started well. From the very get go they were throwing numbers forward and they interchanged very well and it was, I think, confusing for us at times. It kind of overloaded the midfield and then would spring our outside backs and have a lot of time and space to get crosses in and get shots from distance. We weathered it somehow and got to the second half and played much better and we got out of here with a win.
On what coach Sigi Schmid said to the team at halftime to remedy the problems from the first half...
He just wanted us to take care of the ball. When you keep the ball that's the best defense, because defending right? We just needed to knock the ball around, not try and look for that killer pass right away on the second touch and just knock it around a little bit and make them run and I think we did that better in the second half.
On how big Stefan Frei was...
He was huge. Like I've said before, carrying off the end of last year and he's played so well for us. It would have been nice to get him another shutout, but he kept us in this one. For sure he played great.
Rapids Head Coach, Pablo Mastroeni
On the game...
I think the first half was really bright. We attacked the game in the right way. I think we just got stung on the counter, it was a good finish. I'm really pleased with how we attacked. The guys got forward and created great opportunities. To not be able to finish those was really the story of the day.
Coming out of the second half, I think Seattle did a really good job of creating moments to slow the game down. A lot of times going down and stopping the game, any time you stop the game, you stop momentum. I think from a full perspective they did a good job with that. I think from our side we were a bit loose with our passing, the second half didn't get the flow, and towards the middle part we started picking up the game and creating some good opportunities and some good crosses. We were really loose with our shooting. Having said that, the effort was tremendous and the mentality was great. There are a lot of positives from the game, but it's disappointing with the opportunities we had, we didn't make more of our chances.
How would you have wanted to respond to the pace of them slowing the game down?
We need to execute basic simple passes more efficiently. When they slow it down, you begin to slow down. Your thought process slows down. Instead of zipping the ball quickly, moving it to the next man and changing the angle to pass forward, you sit on it and wait and dribble it sideways. It's a part of the energy of the game. They did a good job. We didn't do a good enough job moving the ball in the early part of the second half. To dictate the flow like we did in the first half.
Not too much of a step back considering the level you were able to play at for a large portion of the game.
This is a process. I don't look at it week to week like you guys do. I look at the overall. The first game we couldn't create anything. Now, we are creating tons and not defending well. We're not as good as we were last week and not as bad as we were this week. It's a process. You've got to find ways to win games. I'm excited about how we defended for the greater parts of the game. I'm excited about how we attacked for the greater part of the game.
Now we have to get results. We've got to find ways to overcome little moments of the game where they're dictating and find ways to get results. For me it's a disappointing result. There are a lot of positives, but there are a lot more things that we need to work on and get better at. Six games in, we're moving in the right direction. We've got a lot of hard work this week and have a great game to come back to next Friday.
Rapids Midfielder, Dillon Powers (#8)
It was an exciting half, why so aggressive?
I think we found the space that we wanted to. I found the space right behind the midfielders. Juan, Gaby and Vicente were making really good runs.
For the second half, was it tougher because they had more guys behind the ball?
They were a little more disciplined in their defense. It's harder to find those gaps. They did a much better job keeping the ball, making us play a lot more defense.
Rapids Goalkeeper, Clint Irwin (#1)
On the game...
It was (Lamar) Neagle who got the initial shot. It hit me, and it was one of the ones where the guys were coming back and just got mixed up. We're just a little bit unlucky. I think we're pretty disappointed on how that goal went down. The third goal was one where we got caught in transition. Martins took the ball down, and had the whole goal to pick out. It was a moment where he comes up with some good soccer and really breaks us down. Overall, I thought we attacked really well, especially in the first half. It was just disappointing we hit the post. It's just one of those games where you can't get that little bit of luck to get you started.
On that rebound was there a little bit of miscommunication along that back line?
There wasn't any time to miscommunicate. It was one where it bounces off of me, James is recovering and it bounces off of him. It lands right at Neagle's feet after he's already run past me. It's kind of silly to give up, but it's just the way it happened.
Rapids Defender, Drew Moor (#3)
Thoughts on the game...
I don't think that Seattle is a 1-3 team better than us, but they were better than us tonight. They finished their chances. I think we were too loose in the back. They live in the transition, and they took advantage of their opportunities.
Is it an adaption after last week...
This is a good lesson to learn from. We've got a lot of experienced guys in the locker room that aren't very happy with the way the night went. Obviously Seattle is a good team with some very good players, but I think we gave them too much joy and freedom. They want a transition, they want to pick balls up and go at you. When we were able to win the ball higher up the field in their defensive third, we were much more dangerous. I just think the back four had difficulty recognizing when to get tight and when not to get tight. It's something that needs to be fixed, but obviously I have a lot of confidence in these guys and myself to fix little things like that. This is a team that we're going to play two more times; that's not going to happen again when we play them.
It was very open in the first half, was that good for you defensively?
If we're winning, yes definitely. Defensively it's difficult when the games that open, especially with some of the players that they have. Obviously, you give up a fourth minute goal after hitting the post thirty seconds before that then the game is definitely going to open up. We responded well but gave up another quick strike to them. That's what happens when the game is open. It's the defenders responsibility to make sure we close down in our defensive third. I just don't think we were good enough. We were too stretched out, the team wasn't compact enough. We gave them too much freedom, which is what they were looking for.
Do you take solace that Seattle's first goal and third goals were excellent strikes?
We've got to be better. It doesn't matter what kind of goal you give away, they have to earn the goal. The first strike's a really good goal, but we've got to be tighter to Neagle on that one. He's proven over the course of the last couple of seasons that he can score from distance. Obviously (Obafemi) Martins is a tricky little player. Any time you get scored on you have to fix it, watch the video, realize what happened and talk about it. I think we played a good game. I'm still feeling very optimistic although I might not appear that way. This is a good learning lesson. I think we played better, when I watch the video, then what I'm feeling right now.
This is a bump in the road but you are not put off course.
It's the sixth game of the season. We can't drop points. We can't lose games at home. This has got to be a fortress. We dropped too many points at home last year. We haven't won a game yet at home. We have to be better. I think if everybody was 10% better tonight, it would be a different story.
On returning from injuries...
I felt so much better tonight to be honest. My body was pretty broken down after the first game last week. We had an extra day of rest, but I didn't feel the need to rest tonight which is great. I felt a couple of other little things, but I think that is just from the soreness of going 90 minutes for the first time in nearly eight months last weekend. The body feels fantastic.
How much do you have to change your game plan playing behind as opposed to last week when you were playing ahead?
It's tough because you have to do that during the game. You never plan on playing from behind. A lot of times you're more urgent when you are playing from behind, you create more chances, and are more demanding of each other. We responded well after their first goal and the second part of the first half when they scored their second goal.
Colorado Rapids Midfielder, Vicente Sánchez (#7)
On today's loss against Seattle...
It was a tough game, a game in which we attacked them. I believe their first goal came off a counter-attack after we hit the post. Right after we tied things up, they took scored again. Those were some of the key moments in the match. The team always kept pushing in search of the win.
On the mentality of the team after being down late...
It's a different game when the team goes up a goal at the beginning. We went down 1-0 but were able to tie things up prior to their second goal right after things were even the score. In the second half, we came out aggressive and their third goal came while we kept trying to find our second goal. We will keep working throughout the week so that we can come up next Friday here at home and get the win.