It’s not the commanding lead that they would have preferred, but the Seattle Sounders will at least take a lead into Commerce City, Colo. despite falling behind early.
Showing the resilience that has become a hallmark under head coach Brian Schmetzer, the Sounders erased the Colorado Rapids’ 1-0 lead with goals from Jordan Morris and Nicolas Lodeiro. The second leg of the Western Conference finals will be played on Sunday at altitude.
The Rapids got on the board first on a bit of an awkward play. Jones opened up the play with a ball that Roman Torres seemed to have a decent shot at getting to first. But Shkelzen Gashi was able to shield Torres and dummied it to Kevin Doyle. Doyle’s quick shot deflected off Chad Marshall and went over Stefan Frei’s head and just under the crossbar.
The Sounders were able to equalize about six minutes later, though. Roldan did most of the work on the play, dribbling to the top of the penalty area and unleashing a low shot that beat MacMath but hit off the post. Luckily, Morris was quick to the rebound and was able to touch past MacMath for the equalizer.
The Sounders nearly grabbed their first lead in the 30th minute when Joevin Jones put in a cross that found Nelson Valdez unmarked at the far post. But with a fair amount of the goal to aim at, Valdez’s sliding right-footed shot went back toward MacMath and was saved.
Throughout the second half, the Sounders seemed the more determined team to grab the lead. It finally came around the 60th minute when Morris found Joevin Jones open on the wing. Jones put in a cross that deflected off a Rapids defender that Morris got just enough of a foot on to keep it in a dangerous area. Lodeiro was first to the ball, and although his touch was away from goal, Marc Burch took him down from behind.
Lodeiro coolly put his shot right down the middle for his fourth playoff goal of his Sounders career, setting a new franchise record.
The Sounders clearly understood the importance of adding a third goal and pressed hard until the very end. Their best chance came off the foot of Lodeiro, who nearly curled in a left-footed shot from just inside the penalty area.
This will mark the first time the Sounders have ever taken a lead into the second leg of a conference final. In order to advance, they’ll either need to tie or lose by no more than one goal while scoring at least one of their own.