Jamie Smith

Obafemi Martins hits huge goal for Seattle; Sounders no longer winless

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How is this for turnabout of historical trends: The Seattle Sounders finished one of its few chances and then watched as the other guys blew opportunities for an equalizer.

As a result, the Sounders and have stripped away that awful moniker as Major League Soccer’s last, winless team as a result.

We have talked so many times over the last few years about Seattle as the team that could create sufficient opportunities, but the one that so frustratingly, so frequently struggled to finish them. Saturday outside Denver, the Sounders put together just enough offense and then rode the first MLS goal from Designated Player striker Obafemi Martins to a desperately needed 1-0 win over Colorado.

From the Rapids’ side, the chances to equalize were there. In this case, it was Colorado that created enough coming and going near opposition goal to pull a point, but needed something better once they arrived near goal.

Following an uninspired opening 45 from the Rapids – surprising considering the reports of solid, intense practices from Colorado this week – Oscar Pareja’s team did better at forming the chances after the break. Rookie Dillon Powers came close on another of his shots from outside the 18.

Later, Danny Mwanga came sliding through to miss from close range off Jamie Smith’s feed. Even nearer to the end, Kamani Hill sneaked into the back post and banged one off the piping on a fine feed from Brian Mullan. (A lot of the better stuff from Colorado after the break came on Mullan’s work up the right flank from his defensive spot.)

Defender Drew Moor had a great opportunity on a pinpoint free kick delivery from Smith but headed right at Sounders goalkeeper Michael Gspuring. Even Atiba Harris got a look with his right foot from about 18 but couldn’t generate enough on his shot to test Gspurning.

Pareja wants a certain style from his team, which is fine. But there’s no style that can survive middling finishing. Then again, Seattle knows all about that.

The full highlight package, including Martins’ first-half, game-winning goal.

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MLS Goal of the Week: ProSoccerTalk’s selection

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With apologies to Daigo Kobayashi, who shrewdly caught Columbus ‘keeper Andy Gruenebaum a step or so too far from goal and exploited the little opportunity with brutal precision …

And with apologies to Montreal Impact defender Hassoun Camara, who won’t get forward to score too many goals this year – and who certainly won’t score many with the style points attached to an overhead kick …

I’ll go with Jamie Smith’s wonderful curler as my choice for Goal of the Week.

His shot against Philadelphia was not only bold, but technically perfect. Union goalkeeper Zach MacMath had zero chance on this thing:

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Colorado management clearly values Jamie Smith’s attributes

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Colorado Rapids midfielder Jamie Smith has been among the unlucky ones in MLS.

Quite similar to John Thorrington, he is a smart and skillful midfielder who can leave his mark on a game in a number of ways – when healthy. And there’s the rub.

Like Thorrington, Smith has had a hard time keeping himself on the field, averaging just 14 appearances over his four seasons with the Rapids. Most of the absences were rooted in two serious knee injuries.

News late last week that Colorado had re-signed Smith speaks directly to the Scotsman’s ability to be impact player, because teams aren’t usually going to fight over 32-year-old midfielders with two serious knee injuries shading the resume. So it shows big trust on the part of Rapids technical director Paul Bravo and manager Oscar Pareja that they are choosing to make Smith part of the plan around DSG Park this year.

Injuries to Martin Rivero and Jaime Castrillon, which will dramatically dent the Rapids’ attack this year, may have pushed management over the finish line on this choice. Still, they could have gone elsewhere, so the message of trust and value still resonates.

Thorrington is now with D.C. United.

(MORE: Thorrington’s signing a good move for United)