2012 Apr 14

Great Scott! Sounders defense wins one

Seattle Sounders FC  1 - 0  Colorado Rapids

CenturyLink Field, Seattle, WA

3' SEA: Zach Scott (Alex Caskey)

Seattle: Michael Gspurning; Zach Scott, Jeff Parke, Patrick Ianni, Leo Gonzalez; David Estrada, Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Alex Caskey (Marc Burch 76'); Fredy Montero (Roger Levesque 89'), Eddie Johnson (Sammy Ochoa 67').
Substitutes not used: Bryan Meredith, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Andy Rose, Christian Sivebaek.

Colorado: Matt Pickens; Kosuke Kimura, Marvell Wynne, Drew Moor, Luis Zapata; Jeff Larentowicz, Jaime Castrillon (Kamani Hill 69'), Martin Rivero, Brian Mullan; Omar Cummings, Tony Cascio (Andre Akpan 83').
Substitutes not used: Steward Ceus, Hunter Freeman, Joseph Nane, Tyrone Marshall, Wells Thompson.

Match report from Ron Stickney:

Defender Zach Scott scored the lone goal as the host Seattle Sounders FC beat the Colorado Rapids. It was Scott's first MLS goal.

Seattle's defense was outstanding again, and Michael Gspurning needed just one save to earn the shutout.

Getting his first MLS start was rookie Alex Caskey, replacing Alvaro Fernandez in the lineup. Fernandez reportedly suffered a quadriceps injury in training the day before the match. Also getting his first start with the Sounders was forward Eddie Johnson.

Brian Mullan played the whole match in his first return to Seattle after breaking Steve Zakuani's leg eith a bad tackle a year ago. The fans responded by booing every time Mullan got the ball. Mullan played well and fairly, except for a late foul when he chopped down Osvaldo Alonso from behind, earning a yellow card.

Fredy Montero's first of many shots came early when he was fed by David Estrada and cut away from a defender for a 15-yard shot from the left, a hard shot aimed for the far post that was well saved by goalkeeper Matt Pickens. An early header by Scott from a long Caskey free kick went inches wide of an open top corner, foreshadowing the match winner.

Colorado's first chance came at 14' when Scott misplayed a long air ball, allowing Tony Cascio to steal the ball and try to beat the onrushing Gspurning from 15 yards. The shot went high over the target.

A half hour in, Montero came close from 25 yards on a free kick play that started with Alonso rolling the ball a few feet sideways.

The Rapids' best chance came when they stole the ball from Brad Evans in Seattle's end and served it to Omar Cummings on the left side. He was triple-teamed in the penalty area, but made space for a fine shot from 12 yards. Gspurning collapsed to make the save, but spilled a rebound that was tapped in by Mullan. Unfortunately for Mullan, he was correctly flagged for being offside on the play.

After an even first half, Seattle outplayed Colorado in the second half, taking a dozen shots to the Rapids' one. Montero had the chances early in the half. He bent 30-yard free kick a half yard wide of the near post. His quick shot from 20 yards was pushed wide of the near post by Pickens, giving Seattle the corner kick that would produce the match winner.

63' SEA: Scott (Caskey). Caskey was taking all of the corner kicks and served this one to the near side. Scott ran to open space at the near end of the goal area, ball side of Jeff Larentowicz, and head-flicked it down and into the lower far corner as Pickens was covering the near side. 1-0 Seattle.

Two minutes later Montero took a 35-yard free kick and put it on target at the top corner, but Pickens was there to grab it.

Colorado's only shot of the half came when Martin Rivero volleyed a poor Seattle clearance, but shot well over the bar.

Seattle had three more chances for an insurance goal. A long shot was redirected near goal by Brad Evans, but Pickens was there to make the save. Montero set Sammy Ochoa free up the middle, but the speedy Marvell Wynne caught him at the 18 to tackle the ball away. A minute from full time Montero's 20-yard chip attempt was well aimed, but Pickens backpedalled in time to push it over the bar.

The Sounders now have a two-week break before hitting the road for a match against the Chicago Fire.

          SEA   COL
Shots:     18     4
Saves:      1     6
Corners:    9     2
Fouls:     12    14
Offsides:   3     3

47' SEA: Johnson cautioned for a late kick on Larentowicz
49' SEA: Scott cautioned for a tactical foul to prevent a counterattack
87' COL: Mullan cautioned for chopping down Alonso
87' SEA: Montero cautioned for pushing Mullan in retaliation for the above

Referees: Baldomera Toledo; Ian Anderson, Kevin Duliba; Alejandro Mariscal

Attendance: 38,360

Post-Match Quotes

Seattle Sounders FC

Sigi Schmid - Head Coach

On the result: "Obviously we're pleased with the 1-0 win; another shutout for our defense, which is a good thing. I thought we - especially in the second half - I thought we created a number of chances. Our finishing - we're still struggling to find it a little bit, so sometimes you've just got to take a game like this. But overall, I thought we were more dangerous. Overall I thought a lot of their possession was in the deep end of the field. It was possession that didn't concern us too much and I thought we did a good job when they came forward. I thought we did a good job of contesting the ball, winning the ball in midfield and being able to turn those into attacking sequences for us."

On if he was tempted to pull Zach Scott out of the game with a minute to go: "No, no. He's lucky because he plays defense. If he had been a forward we might have done that so that he could listen to the applause."

On Zach Scott's goal: "It's great. His first MLS goal and one of the original Sounders guys. Sometimes people say this or that but the thing is he gives everything he has every time he steps on the field and his energy level is great. He competes for everything and he makes the guys around him compete."

On getting a win before going into a break in the schedule: "It was great because obviously when you're going into the break you'd rather go into the break with a win underneath you as your last game because you don't want to stew on your last result. It's like what Houston had to go through when they played here and then didn't have a game for a while, so from that aspect it was important. It was good for us to get a goal. Again, like I said, we had chances. Sammy Ochoa had two good chances, two good looks in the second half. Fredy Montero had a couple of good looks, a couple of free kicks that were close, as well, in the first half - Evans' header off the set piece, so I thought we had some good looks and eventually those things will start going in for us as well, as long as we continue to create them."

On attacking the Colorado defense: "They sat pretty deep defensively and so then after we scored that forced them to come out a little bit. It opened up a little bit of space for us to attack into. In games like this, these are games where we miss Mauro Rosales and obviously not having Fernandez today as well because those are the two guys that serve as our play-making type of players and breaking down a defense that bunkers in is something what Mauro is very good at. So for us, once we got the goal it forced them to come forward a little bit and then the spaces were there for us to be able to attack."

On if there is anyone that he thinks would have been more unlikely to score a goal tonight than Zach Scott: "Michael Gspurning. I think he'd probably be a little more unlikely. Zach's forward, he's one of the better headers of the ball and we try and get good set pieces in. I thought Alex Caskey, who we gave a lot of responsibility to in his first game, not only was he out there on the field, but we said, 'Hit the corners for us.' He hits a very good corner, drives the ball very well and it was just a well-timed run. I'm just very happy for Zach."

On Eddie Johnson's first start for the Sounders: "It was good. I thought we got a good 60 minutes out of him, which is important because now we can start building in-game fitness. I think his ability to hold the ball, there were times when he was really close to breaking in, a little bit of that is going to take timing, a little bit of that is understanding his teammates as well. If he would of maybe had a couple of those chances late that Ochoa had, when he's 90 minutes fit I think Eddie's pace will allow him to finish those situations. I was pleased with what he did."

On if he has a concern that Fredy Montero has not got in on the scoring yet this season: "Well, he's ending up dropping deep a little bit for us and part of that is because Mauro is not on the field, so he's taking a little more of that playmaking onto his shoulders. There's times where I think he could save himself some punishment by just getting rid of the ball maybe a step sooner, but as a result of holding it he ends up getting beat up a lot by the opponent. He drew some fouls for us in dangerous situations that set up free kicks for us that allowed us to be dangerous, too. So overall, I think his impact on the game was a positive one and his role ends up being a little bit different, especially without Flaco out there and without Mauro out there. The guys are still not sure how much Caskey is going to provide. I think as he plays a little more guys are going to understand that he can play-make a little bit, too, and do some things. He had a good left-footed effort that if it doesn't get blocked it might be dangerous."

On moving David Estrada to the midfield: "Well, we felt Eddie was ready to come, we felt that David could play on the outside of midfield - that's where he played at the end of last season for us, and I thought he had an effective game out there. There's about 15 minutes there where I thought he lost his impact a little bit, but then he found it again and was unlucky maybe not to get a goal - it got deflected and went sort of long on the shot, but he can run the line. He helps us out there defensively, but he's also a guy who can get in at the back post and that's something - changing the point of attack, finding the runners at the deep post - is something that we've got to get better at."

Zach Scott

On the goal: "Something I pride myself on is getting a piece of headers. My wife and mom have been on my case lately about putting one of those away. Hopefully I made them proud. Obviously we practice it a lot, trying to find the right spots, swinging in good balls. Caskey just put it right in my path. I really didn't have to do much other than run in the right area and get the tiniest bit of a deflection on it and put it away. It was exciting. It's great to put the team up on the right foot going into this break, getting the win and more importantly getting the shutout."

On breaking his own long drought: "It'd be a relief if I knew that stat. I had no idea. I can't even remember the last time I scored a goal. It's got to be five or six years with the lower division team. Obviously, good to get off to a good start this year."

Defenders don't care about that stuff?: "Good golly, no. We're thinking about shutouts and we're thinking about keeping teams from scoring. That's it."

Wives and moms do?: "Wives and moms, absolutely. That's the first thing on their minds: What can you do better?"

So you have more goals than Montero and Johnson: "Oh, good golly. I've got to take a picture of that. Never in my career would I have thought that."

On getting another shutout: "It's great. I feel like we've been playing pretty well defensively. When it breaks down, Mike has been huge for us. It's important to have that communication between the back four and obviously Ozzie picking up pieces, as well. It's been a great team effort."

What's different about the defense this year?: "I think all the pieces were there, obviously, with the other teams, it was just a matter of just getting a bit more comfortable, knowing where each other is going to be at all times, and I think we're at that point. You make a mistake and you know for sure there's going to be cover in there. Nobody's ever left 1v1, basically."

On having seven different defenders start and 19 on the team this season: "That's an impressive stat, but you can see that from years past. The guys we put in reserve games, the guys we put in Open Cups, Champions League -- this team is deep. The front office does a great job of finding guys who can start on other teams basically. We got two starting groups."

Did you see Mullan as just another player today: "Other than the crowd, hearing them boo him every time he touched the ball, I don't think anybody else thought twice about it. It's not like we were out there looking for some way to retaliate or something. We wanted to basically honor Steve with a win, and that's what we did."

Were emotions heightened during that 87th-minute scuffle?: "A little bit. Obviously I was on a yellow card, so there's no way I was going to get involved in that. But obviously it's emotional. Steve was a big part of our team, losing him for a year is huge. It's not something we're going to forget, but it's definitely something we're going to move on from."

Michael Gspurning

On the game: "The win is okay for us. We were unlucky not to score in the first half. Then, in the end, we should have made another goal to finish the game up. It's okay. It's another win and we're happy with this."

On the good defensive play of late: "It's great work what the defense is doing, all the guys in front of me. So thank you very much to the guys. It's the job of the whole team. Also Fredy and Eddie or who's playing up front, they create, run after balls and win tackles in their half, so it's much easier to start defending on our half when they defend in their half. It's the success of the whole team."

On Zach Scott scoring a goal: "It's great. He's such a physical player and he goes for those headers like there is no tomorrow. It's normal that he would score in this situation because if you're going like there's no tomorrow, then someday you'll have success. We're very, very happy for him."

Fredy Montero

On getting the late yellow card: "(It's what you feel) when you see that kind of dirty play. It doesn't matter who was the player. For me, it was more than a yellow card. It was a red card, because it was coming from behind. It was a dirty tackle."

More about the tackle than who was making it?: "Yeah, I (didn't) see his last name, I didn't see his face, I just came and (supported) my teammate."

On playing with Johnson up front: "Eddie's a great player. He's very smart. You can see out there how he was running off the ball. It's going to help the team. We just need to score the first goal and we'll keep scoring for this team."

In your head you haven't scored in five games?: "I'm worrying because I love to play and score goals ... Right now I'm worried about the team. I'm playing another position and coming from the back with the ball and trying to play it forward. You saw it when I was looking for Sammy Ochoa or for Eddie Johnson, or sometimes when Estrada is playing up front with me. Right now, I'm happy because the team won this game. It's always a very nice feeling in our house, winning with 38,000 people."

Are you showcasing different talents playing deeper?: "Sure. For me it's whatever the teams needs. If the team needs that I'm going to do it ... I'm going to keep trying -- that's it. I'm going to work hard in practice and the next game. I'm always hungry to score goals."

Osvaldo Alonso

On getting hit from behind by Brian Mullan and what his thoughts were: "It wasn't a big deal. He came from behind and kicked me from the back. I reacted a little aggressively but it's a normal football thing and nothing to worry about."

On the foul by Mullan and his reaction to it being only due to the foul, not who was committing the foul: "No, it was just the foul. It could have been anybody."

On the defensive effort and posting a shutout: "Very happy about us being able to keep the zero throughout the game and I think we did a good job defensively."

Alex Caskey

On his first MLS assist: "That was extremely exciting. I found out later that that was Zach's first goal so it made me feel even better. And then, of course, it was great to get the win at home."

On how he found out he would get the start today, his first in MLS: "We were waiting to see how Flaco was feeling. They told me yesterday just, 'Be ready, and if he's not ready to go, then we'll put you in there.' So I found out today when I got here."

On his thoughts when he found out he'd get the start: "I've just got to get mentally prepared and ready to go, start thinking about who I'm playing against and where I'm playing and just get ready to go."

On how he felt about how he played and if he felt active: "That was what I was hoping to bring was my energy and work rate and then hopefully just use that intensity to try to make something happen for the team."

On his skill-set and handling the corners for the team today: "That's something I can bring to the team would be deliveries from the wings or free kicks and just having a high work-rate."

On what the first few minutes of the game were like: "Pretty fast. It takes a little getting used to the speed of play and the intensity of the MLS game."

Did playing in the reserve game help?: "It did, yeah. They're just making sure I'm comfortable everywhere, just in case, depending on where I'd be needed in the game. It was good to get some time in the reserve game to be ready for this game."

Colorado Rapids

Oscar Pareja - Head Coach

On the game: "I liked the first half, we looked very solid. I was trying to get a better performance in the first half this game and I saw it. It was very positive, in the second half we weren't as consistent as we were in the first. Going forward we need to beat LA. I saw a lot of intensity and courage in the first half. We need to be more dangerous and create options to score. At the end of the day that's going to give you points."

On the Brian Mullan situation: "I think he is a great professional, things like this are just part of the game.I was very proud of Brian today and to be honest with you we didn't talk with Brian at any point in the week about that. We were worried about the game. I thought it was one of his best games of the season."

On Goalkeeper Matt Pickens: "Matt had a couple of saves that shows he is a good player."

On the corner kick that led to the goal: "Disappointed. At this level we can't afford those mistakes. We need to reflect, that was the game."

Brian Mullan

On sleeping last night: "Apprehensive is the best word for it. There are a lot of great fans in this city as well as a lot of nerves leading up to the game. I applaud the fans, they did a good job and conducted themselves professionally and consistently with their reputation."

On communication with Zakuani: "Through intermediaries I have tried to setup a face to face apology. He was very open to it but it has not happened as of yet."

On Zakuani recovering: "I wouldn't say it [has made it] easier. Do not get me wrong, I'm pleased, I want him back on the field more than anybody. He's a great player and for that to happen to him on my watch is something that I will never live down."

On his original post-game comment about the tackle being routine: "I do not know if you have watched me play since then but it has completely changed my game. When I made that comment I had no idea the extent of his injury. Right after the tackle I did not even see him. I had no idea of the extent until I was leaving the stadium and the team chaplain told me the extent."

On learning from the incident: "You know, the only thing that helps is I know what to expect now, that's about it."

Drew Moor

On the fans' response to Brian Mullen: "To be honest I thought the fans were great and they did exactly what we expected. We did not expect them to be nice to him but I had forgotten about it for the most part. You heard the boos whenever he touched the ball. That is part of the game sometimes and I thought the fans were great."

Thoughts coming into the week: "The main focus was winning the game. We're all Brian's family here but we do not put it behind us either. The focus was points and we're disappointed to leave with nothing. We always supported him and there were no issues."

General comments on the game: "I thought we did exactly what we wanted to do in the first half. We came in and matched their intensity. We were better than them at times in the first half, created some chances. Our inability to create and possess in the second half wasn't good enough today. To give up a set piece goal is a bad goal to give away, we're leaving here disappointed and have to fix things like that."

On being 3-3 so far: "The last 4 of 5 have been on the road in tough places to play. If you break each game down individually you feel like we should have a better record than we do now, especially after today's match. We came in the first half and did exactly what we wanted to do and to give up a soft goal ... Good for them but our record should be better than it is right now."

On the upcoming game against LA: "They're having a tough go with it right now, they have a big one tonight or tomorrow against Portland. We have to put this one behind us and fix the mistakes that we made. We obviously have to stay focused for 90 minutes whether it's on a set piece or open play but they're a dangerous team. It's a great opportunity to put this one behind us and move forward."