The Seattle Sounders went on the road to face the Colorado Rapids in need of a get-right game. It wasn’t perfect, but the 2-1 win included a lot of good things for the Sounders. Léo Chú scored his fifth goal of the season, Albert Rusnák scored his fourth, and Cristian Roldan marked his first start since returning from his second concussion with an assist.
At halftime the Sounders had held over 55% of possession, outshot the Rapids 6-2, and held a 1-0 lead for their efforts thanks to a fantastic goal from Léo Chú. That only tells a small part of the story, as a rotated lineup that included Jordan Morris up top, Cristian Roldan back in the starting XI on the right wing, and Josh Atencio in midfield alongside João Paulo put on a performance that looked a lot more like the Highlife Soccer we were treated to early in the season than anything the team had showed over the last few months.
The gulf in chance creation during the first half wasn’t just a matter of volume. While Seattle did have three times as many shots as Colorado, their shots also came from much more dangerous places and were largely the result of repeatable actions. Morris and Roldan both had dangerous looks from 10 yards out within the first half-hour, and their front six consistently overwhelmed the Rapids with their fluid movement.
Rusnák added a second for Seattle in the 56th minute, finishing off an outstanding buildup from João Paulo and Roldan that saw the two players each ride challenges before Roldan entered the box along the endline and hit a cross to the edge of the 6-yard box that Rusnák headed home.
Following the second goal Colorado started to find more of a footing through a combination as the Sounders took their foot off the gas, and Cole Bassett eventually gave his side a goal in the 80th minute. What looked like the team’s 12th shutout of the season was spoiled by Bassett making an unmarked run from the top of the box onto a loose ball and hitting his shot low towards the far post. Seattle weathered the storm over the next 15 minutes, though, as Colorado pushed for an equalizer to claim all three points.
It didn’t end up being especially glamorous, but with the win Seattle sit in 2nd place in the West with four games to go. They’re five points behind 1st place St. Louis CITY SC with the two sides facing off in St. Louis on the final day of the regular season.
7’ – Jordan Morris is the target for a cross from Joao Paulo, but his glancing header goes wide of goal as Seattle have the first look at goal of the game.
8’ – Yeimar sends in a spectacular ball that removes the entire Colorado team for Albert Rusnák, but Rusnák can’t get his volley on target.
16’ – Andrew Gutman gets Colorado out on a break after forcing a turnover off of Alex Roldan, but Jackson Ragen makes a big sliding tackle to shut it down.
24’ – Cristian Roldan gets a chance from 10 yards out off of a Léo Chú cross, but his half-volley on the turn flies over the goal.
34’ – GOAL! Léo Chú! He glides into the box from the left after a little interplay with Joao Paulo and smashes his right footed shot into the far netting to give Seattle the lead! 1-0 Sounders
48’ – A lovely slip pass from Chú sets Morris up for a sliding shot, but Colorado goalkeeper Marko Ilic makes a good save to give up a corner instead of a goal.
56’ – GOAL! Rusnák makes it two! JP and Cristian Roldan steamroll down the right side, and Roldan clips a cross towards the penalty spot and Rusnák heads it into the back of the net. 2-0
80’ – Goal. Colorado pull one back through Cole Bassett making a late run to pick up a loose ball, which he blasts through traffic into the back of the net. 2-1
87’ – Stefan Frei comes up with a big save to maintain the advantage as Colorado create a little havoc with a throw into the box.
90’ +2 – A scary moment in stoppage time as Obed Vargas gives up a dangerous free kick on the edge of the box, but the shot hits the wall and is eventually cleared for a corner.
The Atencio Agenda: Josh Atencio rarely put a foot wrong from his place in midfield. He used his size well to help Seattle control the midfield, particularly as he won all four of his aerial duels and three of four ground duels, while also steadily adding up defensive actions and playing seven passes into the final third. He wasn’t the only reason for Seattle’s strong performance – against an admittedly poor Colorado side – but I’m going to keep banging the drum for him to see the field as much as possible until he gives me a good reason to stop. This is the #AtencioAgenda.
Cristian’s comeback continues: Cristian Roldan was back in the starting lineup in a league play for the first time since July 15 against Charlotte, two months ago. His assist was gravy in terms of his performance, and it’s fitting that it proved to be the deciding goal. He only missed three passes in his 65 minutes on the field, created four chances, and was all over the field contributing in every phase of play. He’s so important to how the Sounders play, and this performance was a great example of that, but more than that it’s just good to see him appear in two games in a row with no apparent setbacks as he continues his road back to 100% health after dealing with concussion issues for much of this season.
It’s okay to dream: As noted above, the Sounders now sit five points back from St. Louis. They have four games left this season and close the regular season out with a trip to St. Louis for a match that could have the top spot in the West hanging in the balance. None of those last four games are gimmes, but they are all winnable. If Seattle can spend more of the next 360 minutes of MLS play looking like they did for the first 79 minutes of tonight’s game, they could certainly find themselves the number 1 seed when the playoffs start. If they can keep it up after that, they could be lifting their third MLS Cup on December 9.
Did you see that?!?
Léo Chú added his fifth goal of the season in style.
He said what?!?
One stat to tell the tale
102 – Cristian Roldan’s last MLS start came 102 days ago, on June 10 against Charlotte FC.