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Seattle Sounders vs. Colorado Rapids, Western Conference Finals leg one: Highlights, stats and quotes

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“We expect to win every game that we go out and play. I think the resolve to go out and score two goals against the best defense in MLS shows good resolve.” -Brian Schmetzer

MATCH SUMMARY

Seattle Sounders FC 2 - Colorado Rapids 1

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Venue: Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field Referee: Chris Penso

Assistants: C.J. Morgante, Jeff Muschik

Fourth Official: Sorin Stoica

Attendance: 42,774

Weather: Rain and 46 degrees

SCORING SUMMARY

COL - Kevin Doyle (Jermaine Jones) 13'

SEA - Jordan Morris 19'

SEA - Nicolás Lodeiro (penalty) 61'

MISCONDUCT SUMMARY

COL - Marc Burch (caution) 34'

COL - Kevin Doyle (caution) 58'

COL - Sam Cronin (caution) 67'

LINEUPS & STATS

Seattle Sounders FC - Stefan Frei; Tyrone Mears, Román Torres, Chad Marshall, Joevin Jones; Osvaldo Alonso - captain, Cristian Roldan, Erik Friberg (Brad Evans 69'), Nicolás Lodeiro, Jordan Morris (Andreas Ivanschitz 78'), Nelson Valdez

Substitutes not used: Tyler Miller, Herculez Gomez, Zach Scott, Alvaro Fernandez, Oniel Fisher

Total shots: 15 (Lodeiro, 5)

Shots on goal: 6 (Lodeiro, 3)

Fouls: 10 (Alonso, 3)

Offside: 2 (Valdez, 2)

Corner-kicks: 6 (Lodeiro, 6)

Saves: 6 (Frei, 6)

Colorado Rapids - Zac MacMath; Eric Miller, Jared Watts, Axel Sjoberg, Marc Burch; Sam Cronin, Jermaine Jones, Shkelzen Gashi (Micheal Azira 78') Sebastien Le Toux, Dominique Badji (Marlon Hairston 70'), Kevin Doyle

Substitutes not used: John Berner, Mekeil Williams, Dillon Powers, Marco Pappa, Bobby Burling

Total shots: 9 (Le Toux, 3)

Shots on goal: 7 (Le Toux/Badji, 2)

Fouls: 14 (Doyle, 4)

Offside: 0

Corner-kicks: 5 (Gashi, 5)

Saves: 4 (MacMath, 4)

POST-MATCH QUOTES

SOUNDERS FC HEAD COACH BRIAN SCHMETZER

On Nico Lodeiro:

“He is a tremendous player. He sparked us when he first arrived – he gave belief in the group. Certainly there was some help there – the underlying tone of belief was always there – we just needed that spark to kick us off. I think he gets a lot of credit for that…His importance is obvious after losing [Clint] Dempsey. We need guys to step forward and score goals. In that regard he has been very important to us.”

On playing after a long break:

“Coming off the field, I thought some of our passing wasn’t as sharp as it could have been. [Playing] away from pressure could have been better. Overall, condition of the team certainly took a little bit of a hit, but you balance it out with having Jordy [Morris] on the field for 70-plus minutes, getting Andreas [Ivanschitz] back and giving him a few minutes, so I think the balancing act in the end was OK for us. There was a little bit of rust there, but it’s something we will work on in training.”

On if the team looked to up the tempo in the second half:

“Up-tempo, yes. [We were] trying to create more width, change the point of attack a little faster – we were trying to get after them. We knew we needed to score another goal. Basically, [we needed to work] on these finer details, pick the tempo up, attack these areas and try to get another.”

On the concern of a 1-0 defeat in the second leg:

“Since we’ve taken over, there has only been one game where we haven’t scored a goal. Only one. That changes things. We understand that soccer is a fluid game – it could end up 1-0 for them or it could end up 3-1 for us – I think if you did the math, there are a lot of scores going in our favor, as well.”

On if Jordan Morris was expected to play 70 minutes:

“We don’t ever put a number on it. I thought when Brad [Evans] came on he could spark the game a little bit, but then he dinged up his ankle. I was comfortable with him over those 70 minutes and maybe it was just precautionary – we were leading and I thought Brad could come in and do the job, just making sure he is healthy for the return leg.”

On the expectation of winning:

“We expect to win every game that we go out and play. I think the resolve to go out and score two goals against the best defense in MLS shows good resolve. I would say that every expectation that this club has, from the ownership group through the players through the staff, we all expect to win every game when we step into the field. That hasn’t changed one iota. Games were certainly must-win back then, but they are must-win now. If we win in Denver, we go through.”

On the goals:

“It’s always nice to score. I have confidence that the team was going to find a way to score. Whether it comes five minutes, 10 minutes or in the last 15 minutes, I have confidence that the team will find a way to win and create stuff.”

On Lodeiro’s immediate impact to the club:

“He came in prepared. A lot of times a mid-season DP is coming in after a season and there is a lot of wear and tear on the body, but Lodeiro had a little bit of an injury. He had a little bit of a lay-off, he comes back with Boca, he finishes off this tournament and as he finishes the tournament he gets in good physical condition. But what really made the difference was that he scouted MLS games. He wanted to watch as many MLS games as he could, so that is just a testament to what kind of character he has.”

SOUNDERS FC GOALKEEPER STEFAN FREI

On the play of Chad Marshall and Román Torres in the middle:

“I think it’s difficult sometimes when you have some fast guys, you have to watch the space behind you, as well, and the channels that they may be able to run into. They didn’t really have anything. I think we took care of that spacing behind pretty well. Kept them in front of us, we know that they like to shoot from distance. We wanted to make sure that if anyone comes in to that 20-30 zone that we are ready to step up and contest the shot. They did a really good job today. It’s given us a result that will give us a fighting chance down there. I belive in our squad, that we can go down there and play a good game and get an away goal and move on.”

On possibly playing with as the favorites:

“I don’t know if you want to call it favorite. All the teams that are left are good teams so I think we are very aware of what the playoffs mean. One little slip up, one little individual brilliant moment by a player can be the difference, you know? So we are very aware that we [need tp] bring our A-game and beleive in our own ability. We aren’t going to say that we are the favorites or the underdog or what not we just know what we have in our squad and it’s tons of skill and tons of players that could amount to an MLS trophy.”

On preparing for the mental challenge of a two game aggregate series:

“I think that obviously there’s that away goals rule. But you should look at it as one game at a time, we’ve had ample amounts of time to look at each game one game at a time and treat those games with the utmost respect because we need it to get results, one game at a time. I think we should continue to do that. Today we go down a goal but we are not going to get rattled, we wanted to win this game and we did. And it gives us a chance going down there.”

SOUNDERS FC MIDFIELDER NICOLÁS LODEIRO (THROUGH TRANSLATOR)

On the penalty:

“It’s just that Jordan touched the ball and I went for the ball after the touch, I cut and once I did that they got my leg and it was a clear penalty.”

On the play of Cristian Roldan:

“Cristian played a great game and he’s a key player for the function of the team and every single game he plays he keeps surprising me more. He’s a very important player.”

On being the postseason leader in goals scored for Sounders in their history:

“It is a surprise because I didn’t know that, so it makes me very happy. More importantly it motivates me to improve. It’s all about making progress.”

SOUNDERS FC MIDFIELDER OSVALDO ALONSO

On the growth of Jordan Morris:

“Jordan is a great player. His ablility to take people one-on-one is amazing. He scored today, in big times, I’m very happy for him.”

On winning the first leg of the Western Conference Championship for the first time:

“It feels great. Winning at home is always good. Now we have to go down there and try to win a game and get in the final.”

On the magnitude of the game:

“It’s good for us. We go down there with a little bit of an advantage, it’s always good. We have to go there and try to win the game and go to the final.”

SOUNDERS FC FORWARD JORDAN MORRIS

On the goal in the first half:

“It was all Cristian, I think. He did a great job, he collected the ball and he took it 20-30 yards or whatever it was and took a great shot and [Zac MacMath] made a good save. I’m always trying to follow up on rebound stuff and it landed at my feet and was able to put it away, but credit to Cristian, he created it.”

On the feeling of his hamstring and overall health:

“I felt great honeslty. I wanted to keep playing, I think that’s a good sign. The hamstring felt good and no real issue with that, it feels good.”

On the 2-1 score:

“I mean obviously you never want to conede an away goal, but it is what it is. The deflection was really unfortunate but I think the guys responded really well and the whole team. Those two goals were big. In the end we won, that’s what’s important, we go in there with the lead.”

On the play of Lodeiro:

“Yeah he’s incredible. For me what is so amazing about him is that he can pick you out no matter where you are, he gets me on. He’s come up clutch with big goal in the playoffs. He works so hard defensivly, he’s the heartbeat of the team.”

COLORADO RAPIDS HEAD COACH PABLO MASTROENI

On the game:

“I think we did what we wanted to do, and that was to come here and find that goal – the road goal. The guys did a fantastic job in the first half of pushing the game at times and I think it was a great start. Obviously coming into this place, with the many variables that make it difficult to play here, I thought the guys really handled themselves professionally. They executed the game plan to a ‘T,’ so from that perspective I’m very pleased with the performance. We sit here today in a better situation than a couple weeks ago against L.A. We had [seven] games at home where we won 1-0 and we defend…we’ve given up the least goals at home in the history of the league, I think. We’re very comfortable with the position that we are in today.”

On if he thought it was a penalty:

“Do you want to get me in trouble? It’s a big game and it’s unfortunate when the players don’t decide the result. It’s futbol, and it happens and that’s not going to be the focus. The focus is making sure we come out with the same type of mentality that we came out with against L.A. And bring them to the altitude, asphyxiate them in the 60th minute and find a way to host MLS Cup in front of our fans.”

On Zac MacMath’s game and the challenge of going forward without Sam Cronin:

“I think MacMath had a pretty good game. It’s not easy stepping into the season at this point. It’s slick turf, wet and there are some very good attacking players on this Seattle team. He handled himself really well and kept us in the game and made some big saves. He jumped off his line in the second half there and did a good job of controlling the momentum of the game.

Missing Sam is not something that we anticipated, but one thing we’ve proven this year is that regardless of who steps into any role, whoever steps in will do a fantastic job and will find a way to win. I have no concerns about that part of it. The most important thing is we came in to do a job and we did that today.”

On if Seattle did anything that surprised him:

“I think they have a very good attacking group. At times they imposed themselves on us and did a pretty good job of that. Obviously at home they’ve got quite a few fans pushing them on and you felt that energy in the stadium. Overall, I think we did a pretty good job defensively. They’re going to have their opportunities and chances, but we did a really good job as a group minimizing clear, quality opportunities.”

On how they minimized Seattle’s opportunities:

“Their best play comes through Nicolás Lodeiro and the guys…they like to overload the midfield with [Erik] Friberg coming in, [Cristian] Roldan and [Osvaldo] Alonso. They try to overload that middle and I think we did a good job of pushing them to the outsides. What we didn’t necessarily do a great job of was eliminating and blocking a lot of crosses. But we’re going to give that up. The guys in the middle did a fantastic job of defending the box and along with Zac, coming out for crosses. Overall, there weren’t too many surprises. They’re a very good team – a very good attacking team – so now it’s about us to impose ourselves on them when they come to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.”

On if they wanted to change tactics with the early 1-0 lead:

“No. The most important thing was to come here with a mindset along with a tactical plan. I think too many times when you start tweaking tactics in the middle of a game you start sending the wrong message. Then you sit back then you concede one then you concede two and then three because of changing that type of…not only the tactic, but the tactic influences the mindset. The most important thing for me was we’re going to try and make a goal late in the second half, as well. We tried to get after it, we tried to press and did a good job of winning balls higher up the field and really forcing them to kick a lot of long balls. That final third really let us down a little bit tonight, but for the most part, the guys were on the front foot and really put the press on Seattle late in the game.”

On the conversation he had with Jermaine Jones around 30 minutes in:

“I think they were overloading the middle a little bit and Kevin [Doyle] was positioning himself quite central. If you play one-v-one in the middle of the field, you’re going to be overloaded because we don’t have enough players in there. They bring four or five guys in there so the idea is, from a zone perspective, that we’re doing a good job of getting numbers ball side. Once we tweaked it a little bit and got that sorted out, I think we did a pretty good job of forcing them to the outsides.”

On Shkelzen Gashi’s recovery and what he meant to the team tonight:

“I think it was fantastic. Credit to him – there was no chance that he was going to go, but he kept texting me every night saying, ‘Coach, I’m going to play on Tuesday.’ And I said, ‘Okay, Gash, we’ll take it one day at a time.’ And I’m thinking there’s no way, but he found it. He was doing a ton of work. Away from the club, he was nonstop. From a mentality perspective, he was putting himself in the best position to go out and play on turf. When you have ankle and knee injuries, the last thing you want to do is step on turf. It didn’t stop him and it’s that type of mentality that he’s shown in the last week kind of reflects the mentality of this group – they want to be on the field and don’t care if they’re hobbling, if they’re limping … they want to find a way to help their teammates secure a result. I think he had a very good game and surprised me that he went as long as he did.”

On what he saw on the opening goal from Kevin Doyle:

“I just remember it was a nice combination play. Doyle has been really aggressive with his movements and his ability to release that shot – I think it was a deflection, if I’m not mistaken – it was just his mindset that we needed to get on the board and shoot to score. That’s something we haven’t necessarily been doing as of late so it was a great way to start the game. It was an important goal not only for Doyle, but for our group, and a positive symbol moving to the second leg of the series.”

COLORADO RAPIDS DEFENDER MARC BURCH

On on the match:

“Decent result. I am glad we got a goal. We just need to go home and take care of business.”

On getting the away goal:

“Yeah it is huge. I don’t know how many shutouts we have had at home, but we have been pretty good at home. I am looking forward to getting the shutout and the goal and it wins it for us.”

On not walking away with a draw after being in the lead:

“Yeah of corse, being in the lead. I also thought we had a chance to come back.”

On playing for the first time as a team against a Seattle team with Lodeiro:

“Lodeiro is an interesting player. He is good. He is good on the ball and picks out passes well. I am pretty sure he took a dive on that first yellow card from me. That is unfortunate. He is a good player though. He makes that team click. I think the second half of the season when he came he made them very good.”

On not having Cronin for the second leg:

“That is huge. He is our captain. He helps this team run, but we have guys ready to step in. Everybody been involved all year, so we will fill in and go from there.”

On on going back to Colorado:

“Confident. One hundred percent. We can take care of business, we did with LA. All we have to do is get the same result against this team and we will be fine.”

COLORADO RAPIDS MIDFIELDER SHKELZEN GASHI

On how he is feeling:

“I am very positive. We make a good game. 2-1 is a good result for us because we know what we can do at a home game. Now we will recover well and play on Sunday.”

On the confidence level going into the second match:

“Yes the first goal that we scored was very important for us, because when we play at home we play much different. Today all players said let’s go, hats off, we know what we can do. Now we start on Sunday.”

On your thoughts on the first goal:

“We play very good together. I think everybody plays one touch and then a nice goal. He scored very well. It was important. Every guy knows it was important for us.”

On his ankle:

“Yes it was good. I have done a lot of work and have trained some pre-training with the team. It was good. I was also happy I could play today. Now I will have recovery and then Sunday. For me I was very happy in the game that my ankle was good and I have no problem. Now I know everything is good and I can start on Sunday.”

COLORADO RAPIDS MIDFIELDER JERMAINE JONES

On tonight's result:

“We are happy with the away goal. Now we have to go home. We know that a one-zero win will put us to the next round. I think I looked on the inside. The penalty is a penalty but before that was a handball and the referee didn't see that. So then they come to the penalty chance.”

On playing the next leg one goal after coming back against LA:

“Of course. We know that today with all respect. Seattle has a good team. Especially up front, they know how to play. You have to respect that. We knew it would not be easy but we came here and said that we want to try to score a goal. That was the main goal and we did it. Now they come to us and will have to play in altitude. We have not lost a game at home so we will try to keep that going.”

On the positives from tonight's game:

“We said before we wanted to score here and not like we did against the last round against LA. I think that one goal will open up the door for us and now we play at home before our fans. Like I said before we score one and we go through.”