Photo by USA Today Sports Images
By JASON MITCHELL
SEATTLE — It wasn’t the prettiest day and it wasn’t the prettiest match, but a moment of class was all the Seattle Sounders needed to knock off a shorthanded opponent on Saturday.
While the Sounders looked short of their best for much of the match, a set piece goal from Clint Dempsey provided all the scoring necessary to beat the Colorado Rapids 1-0 in front of 38,934 at CenturyLink Field.
Dempsey found himself unmarked on a 53rd-minute Marco Pappa corner kick and deftly volleyed past goalkeeper Joe Nasco for his 11th goal of the season. It was Dempsey’s second goal in as many games after a seven-match scoring drought.
Obafemi Martins nearly doubled the lead five minutes later, collecting a failed clearance and slapping a shot off the frame from 15 yards out.
Colorado occasionally found room on the counter late in the match, but never generated a quality look. Deshorn Brown spotted Edson Buddle in space in the 65th minute, but sent a cross well behind the charging forward.
With the win, the Sounders (15-7-3, 48 points) at least temporarily extended their lead in the Supporters’ Shield race to five points. They have also won back-to-back matches after a 1-3-1 spell stirred memories of last season’s swoon.
Decimated by injuries, the Rapids (8-11-6, 30 points) have now lost six straight matches, tying a club record for futility, and have tumbled out of the playoff spots in the process. Colorado is also now winless in eight regular season trips to Seattle (0-7-1).
Nasco, starting in place of Clint Irwin, did perform well in his MLS debut. A 30-year-old former police officer with a brief history in second- and third-tier American soccer, Nasco delivered five saves and was blameless on Seattle’s lone goal. The Rapids had allowed eight goals in their last two matches.
Seattle controlled possession for much of the first half, but only managed four shots against a makeshift Colorado defense that managed to constrain most of the action to middle of the park.
Looking forward, the Sounders visit Chivas USA (6-12-6, 24 points) on Wednesday, while the Rapids visit the LA Galaxy (12-5-7, 43 points) on Saturday.