Drilling down on; at Seattle 2, Colorado 1

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source: Getty Images

SEATTLE, Wash. –

Man of the Match: Playing in the benched Fredy Montero’s spot, Mauro Rosales provided both assists – two glorious crosses in the span of eight minutes that sealed Seattle’s victory. The first came from a corner, Alvaro Fernandez heading home one of the easiest goals of the MLS season. The second was delivered from the opposite flank (left), Rosales again exploiting Colorado’s set piece vulnerability with a cross for Eddie Johnson.

Packaged for takeaway:

  • It was an emotional night in Seattle, with Steve Zakuani on the bench, poised to make a long-awaited MLS return. The significance was not lost on the crowd, who relentlessly booed Brian Mullan as lineups were announced. Last April, Mullan inflicted a tackle on Zakuani which broke the Seattle attacker’s leg, earning Mullan a nine-game suspension.
  • Even by Seattle standards, Saturday’s was an impressive crowd. The raw number (39,060) spoke for itself, but the mix of opponent, occasion, late start and beautiful night fueled one of the louder crowds of the season.
  • That energy was relayed to the team at the match’s outset, with Seattle clearly the better side over the first 20-25 minutes. Colorado, however, weathered the storm and was able to bring the match to en even (if somewhat dull) footing by half time.
  • There was a strange feeling in the building when Kevin Stott whistled intermission. Perhaps the crowd’s energy combined with the team’s quick start created the erroneous assumption there’d be a goal. What Stott pointed to the center circle, everybody in the stadium paused. Surely, that wasn’t it.
  • But when the teams came out at half, it was more of the same. Were it not for Colorado’s set piece defending, this game would have played out scoreless ¬†(at least until Fredy Montero and Omar Cummings came on).
  • The stalemate didn’t last long, though. In the 52nd minute, Alvaro Fernandez headed Seattle in front, putting a Rosales corner down and into goal for a 1-0 lead.
  • To say Flaco was unmarked would be generous to Colorado. The Rapids seemed to forget he was even on the pitch. Not only was he unmarked – nobody even reacted to him. Fifty-two minutes of work, down the drain, and Colorado didn’t seem to know what happened.
  • Twelve minutes later, it was more of the same. Another Rosales cross into the box. Another goal. This time, the play was at least contested. Eddie Johnson rose over Drew Moor for his eighth goal of the season, seemingly putting the match away.
  • Johnson’s celebration drew a yellow card after he yanked his shirt off, ¬†expressing his frustration at being denied a penalty two minutes earlier. With the ball on the right, Johnson seemed to beat Moor and Luis Zapata as he cut into the area. A last-ditch effort from Zapata won the ball, but there was slight contact on Johnson’s lower right leg. The Seattle striker went down and appealed for the call. When Stott didn’t grant it, apoplexy ensued.
  • Colorado got a 79th minute goal from Omar Cummings and seemed to tie it up in the 86th when a score was eventually pulled back for offside. By that time, Zakuani had handed in Sigi Schmid’s last card. Just as Colorado realized their equalizer had been disallowed, Zakuani was on, Seattle supporters erupting in response to his long-awaited return.
  • Post-match, Schmid conceded bringing Zakuani on was the most tactically sound decision. He was intent on doing so regardless. Would Zakuani still been brought on if the scored had been tied? Schmid was glad he didn’t have to think about.
  • After the final whistle, Zakuani and Mullan exchanged jerseys, briefly embracing. Schmid, who drafted and coached Mullan in Los Angeles, talked about the emotion he saw in Mullan as he shook hands with his former player.
  • Will this put the Zakuani-Mullan saga behind us? It’s too soon to tell, though Saturday’s conclusion was certainly a positive step.
  • For Seattle, it was a needed win, giving the team a small boost going into Wednesday’s can with Chivas USA. The match, however, was a relatively even affair. It’s unclear Seattle has returned to form.
  • For Colorado, write this one off as a road match against a tough opponent. It would have been nice to steal a result at CenturyLink. Not doing so is no reason for alarm.