2012 Jul 7

Sounders return to the win column and Steve Zakuani returns to MLS play

Seattle Sounders FC  2 - 1  Colorado Rapids

CenturyLink Field, Seattle, WA

52' SEA: Alvaro Fernandez (Mauro Rosales)
64' SEA: Eddie Johnson (Mauro Rosales)

79' COL: Omar Cummings (Luis Zapata)

Seattle: Byran Meredith; Adam Johansson, Jeff Parke, Patrick Ianni, Marc Burch; Alex Caskey, Osvaldo Alonso, Andy Rose, Alvaro Fernandez (Cordell Cato 79'); Mauro Rosales (Steve Zakuani 86'), Eddie Johnson (Fredy Montero 72').
Substitutes not used: Josh Ford, Servando Carrasco, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Zach Scott.

Colorado: Matt Pickens; Hunter Freeman, Marvell Wynne, Drew Moor, Luis Zapata; Jeff Larentowicz, Jaime Castrillon (Tony Cascio 84'), Martin Rivero, Brian Mullan; Jamie Smith (Omar Cummings 67'), Conor Casey (Edu 67').
Substitutes not used: Steward Ceus, Joseph Nane, Tyrone Marshall, Wells Thompson.

Match report from Ron Stickney:

Seattle Sounders FC returned to the win column thanks to goals from Alvaro Fernandez and Eddie Johnson. The Colorado Rapids made the game close with a late goal from Omar Cummings but one was all they managed.

A highlight of the match was the long-awaited return to MLS play for Steve Zakuani, who subbed in late in the match.

Colorado goalkeeper Matt Pickens had to make good saves in the first ten minutes, first flying sideways to stop Fernandez' flick-on header from a Rosales free kick, then leaping sideways again to push another Fernandez shot wide. Johnson soon had his first chance, sprung free into the penalty area to shoot wide of the near post.

The 24th minute saw Colorado's first chance when Seattle gave the ball away to Conor Casey. Martin Rivero took the shot, hitting the near side netting.

At 35' Fernandez again came close for Seattle, missing the top near corner from Andy Rose's cross.

At the end of the half Colorado's Jeff Larentowicz tried to put a 35-yard shot into the top far corner and Meredith got there to push it over the bar.

52' SEA: Fernandez (Rosales). Seattle got a great start to the second half when Fernandez headed Rosales' corner kick low past Pickens to the near side from 7 yards. 1-0 Seattle.

At 58' Jamie Smith rocketed a nice shot from 25 yards, and Meredith leaped sideways to push it wide of the far post.

64' SEA: Johnson (Rosales). A Seattle corner kick was not well cleared by Colorado, with Patrick Ianni receiving the clearance inside the 18. He kicked the ball sideways to Rosales, who curled a cross in to the center of the 6-yard line. Johnson outleaped his marker to head it in. 2-0 Seattle.

Colorado's Jaime Castrillon had a great look from Hunter Freeman's cross, and Meredith made the save at the lower far corner.

Seattle's Andy Rose got his chance with a header from a Rosales corner kick and missed a yard high.

79' COL: Cummings (Zapata). A defensive breakdown left Cummings open in the box for Luis Zapata's cross and he beat Meredith inside the near post. 2-1 Seattle.

Cummings netted another ball at 85' but was a bit offside on the play, so no goal.

The crowd cheered louder than they ever had when Steve Zakuani entered for Rosales. Zakuani had last played more than a year earlier, when his tibia and fibula were badly broken by a bad tackler from Brian Mullan. Zakuani only got a few touches on the ball, but the emotion may have helped Seattle when they were in danger of letting the match slip away.

Colorado had a few chances left. Substitute Tony Cascio tried from wide left and missed the near post. In added time, Rivero received a drop pass for a chance from the 18 and missed just over the bar, then he grabbed his head in disappointment. Seattle defender Adam Johannson broke up the last two dangerous Colorado attacks to preserve the win.

          SEA   COL
Shots:     14     8
Saves:      3     5
Corners:   10     2
Fouls:      4    12
Offsides:   4     4

41' COL: Rivero cautioned for a tactical foul
64' SEA: Johnson cautioned for removing his shirt to celebrate his goal

Referees: Kevin Stott; Adam Wienckowski, Brian Poeschel; Mark Declouet

Attendance: 39,060

Post-Match Quotes

Seattle Sounders FC

Sigi Schmid - Head Coach

Opening statement: "It's nice to get three points. I guess the rumors of our demise were maybe a little bit premature, but I thought for times today we played some good soccer. The soccer caught up a little bit, which is what I had been saying. As long as we keep fighting and battling and become a tough team to beat our soccer will get back to where it was and tonight for good stretches of time I thought our soccer was good. The last 15-20 minutes of the game became a little bit hectic, especially when we gave up that goal. I was a little bit disappointed. We had some chances. Flaco's breakaway, maybe a PK there, so some opportunities there that could have gotten us a goal or two extra. So we were in a little bit of a scrape. And at the end of the game there was a decision -- tactically was it the right decision? No, but I wanted to get Steve Zakuani on the park and get him some minutes and I thought it worked out well because he was able to get on the field and get some minutes because it's been a long time and it's good for that to happen for him."

On how big it was getting a win today: "It's big. I think now we're on a three-game undefeated streak, is that the way it works now? (laughs) Statistics, you can turn them around any way you want to and make it appear that you're brilliant. I was an economics major, so I know how statistics work. But for us it was important. It was important to get the win. It was important to get back home. It would have been nice to have it be 2-0 or 3-0 and be a lot cleaner than it was, but I was pleased overall. I thought there were more bright spots tonight than there were not bright spots and I thought our team -- as I said -- at times showed very well. And it was nice to see Flaco get his first goal of the year off the corner kick and Mauro and Eddie Johnson's combination was very similar to the goal that we scored in New England, so obviously there's a relationship that's developing there and timing that's starting to come along there as well."

On the formation they ran tonight: "Formation was no different. We just played Mauro in the role that Fredy plays normally. They were in a four-three-three, so as a result we told Caskey and Mauro to push-in, push-out between the two of them and they worked off of each other fairly well. So at the times that Mauro went wide you saw Alex was inside. There was good cover and I thought the energy in terms of the combination play between Eddie and Mauro and Flaco and Caskey as well, and Rose coming through at times, was very good. So it was a situation that we just felt that this was the lineup that would be good for tonight."

On what it was like watching Steve Zakuani on the field: "For sure the eruption of the crowd was as loud as I think I've ever heard here. It was fantastic. I was still caught in the emotion of the game, so I didn't allow myself to think a lot about Steve getting back out there at that period of time and maybe the appropriateness of coming back on the field against Colorado. I'm sure he would have enjoyed some more touches and be able to go at some people and get on the flank, but he's got the first one out of the way, so we can go from there. It's a pretty emotional time because he's come through a lot and suffered a lot with his injury."

On if the late goal would have been allowed and changed his decision as to whether or not to play Zakuani: "I might have sat on it for a second longer. ... We were also concerned about Johansson because he said his hamstring was starting to tighten up, so we were thinking about holding a sub there. I'm glad the goal didn't count. That would have been a shame for us not to have won the game tonight because I thought on the whole we were the better team. But I just felt good things were going to happen. I lost my wallet this morning at Starbucks and they found it, so I figured it was a good omen."

On what is next for Zakuani: "Everything is just one week at a time. He continues to work. We'll see what the situation is Wednesday, whether that's a game that we think fits him. There's still a possibility of us maybe loaning him, so he can get some more minutes in a period of time. But right now he's got to be full in training and continuing to show what he can do in training every day."

On if tonight provided a sense of closure to the Zakuani-Mullan saga: "Hopefully it provides an end to it. I don't know if 'closure' is the right word. I think it's been closed for awhile. I think people have moved on, but it sort of provides a venue for everybody to see the completion of the cycle."

On Zakuani and Mullan exchanging jerseys after the game: "I didn't see that. I know Brian came up to me and we shook hands. We really didn't exchange words, but I saw Brian was emotional at that point. But I didn't see that they had exchanged jerseys. Like I said, I coached Brian. I drafted him. I know where he is at in his heart and I know this situation has truly bothered him as well for a long time. So maybe that's a good situation for both of them to have accomplished that."

Mauro Rosales

On ending the nine-game winless streak: "Today was a great day because it was in front of our fans and they deserved this win. We played very hard, we played with heart today, and I think it was good for us to break that long road we've had without winning. Nothing better than playing in front of our fans ... we wanted to give some prize to them because they make too much effort to us going everywhere. Today the stadium was full and this was something we were waiting for to give to them."

On getting a win: "After nine games without winning the most important thing was the team played with quality today in the field. This is something we have to be proud of and take the good things we did today and figure out fast our mistakes."

On Steve Zakuani making his return: "Very good, very good. I think he enjoyed it because he was waiting for this moment a long time ago, and we are very happy that he came with a win that we deserved ... I can't imagine coming back after one year and a few months. It was tough, but today he won against Colorado."

Eddie Johnson

On getting a win in front of the home crowd: "It's good. We hadn't won in nine games, and it says a lot about this city, this organization, the fans -- how passionate they are, how much they're behind us. Coming out in warmups, having not won in nine games, and it's still packed, you couldn't ask for a better motivation. You couldn't ask for way to pay our fans back after not winning in the last nine games. It was a great win, well fought battle by the team, and we deserved it to win the game tonight."

On his goal and a good team offensive output: "I think Mauro has four assists on my goals. I think that just repetition -- playing games, playing with certain people, and getting an understanding of what they like to do when they get the ball. I think Mauro and I are starting to build a good relationship. You know when he has the ball out wide, he's going to do one thing -- he's going to whip the ball in the box. I just wanted to be alert and be dangerous in the box when the ball comes in and I was able to get on the end of it."

On when Steve Zakuani came on the field: "Man, that's the loudest I've ever heard it. That's the loudest I've ever heard a stadium. I've been playing 11 years of soccer and that's the loudest I've ever heard a stadium. It was good for him to get back, he's worked hard. We saw his ups and downs battling and coming back. He's feeling good and he's only going to help us out as an attacking option in the second part of the season."

Colorado Rapids

Oscar Pareja - Head Coach

General thoughts on the game: "I thought it was an exciting game for the fans. We saw two teams that gave everything on the field and that's good for the game. I'm disappointed obviously for us since we didn't get the result we were looking for. We gave too many corners and ended up paying for that."

On the last 20-25 minutes: "I thought it was a normal reaction, a team taking more risks with a couple of guys with fresh legs and that's what happens. It's been difficult for the boys to play three games in almost a week, so the guys who came from the bench gave us a spark. I thought the game was better for us in the last 25 minutes."

On the offsides call that took away a goal: "I didn't see it, it's hard for me to say. The boys said they didn't see anything, so we wanted it. We just didn't see it."

On the attempted comeback: "Playing in Seattle is always difficult. The team that we put on the field today was taking into the plan, being organized and trying to control the tempo. Seattle did a good job in the first 15 minutes of the game but our team reacted well for the rest of the game. I'm disappointed because we gave up too many corners and set pieces and ended up paying for that. Our team gave a good reaction in the last 25 minutes, for sure."

On Rosales and Fernandez on the field: "Yeah good players always make it difficult for our team, for sure. I think it was a pretty even match for them."

Omar Cummings

On the team turning it around after subbing in: "That's what coach wants any sub to do. Add some energy, take on defenders and get the best positions. I think we definitely put some higher pressure on Seattle and got our chances."

On the the atmosphere: "Starting next week we have to put this behind us and try and be competitive in practice and play hard. Keep moving on, keep growing as a team."

Drew Moor

On the match: "It's always a tough place to come play. Seattle put some pressure on us early in the game and I felt like the second part of the second half we started to find possession and take some chances. Unfortunately it's set pieces that did us in here again. You can play solid for the majority of the game and if you give away a set piece goal it takes away all the energy you put into it."