Photo by Isaiah J. Downing/USA Today Sports
By RYAN TOLMICH
With just three games remaining in the MLS regular season, the Seattle Sounders remain on course for a heavyweight battle with the LA Galaxy.
The Sounders kept level in the Supporters’ Shield race Sunday by topping the Colorado Rapids, 4-1, at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
The Sounders were once again led by their superstars, as Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins played a part in each of the Sounders’ four finishes on the night.
It took just 11 minutes for the Sounders to snag the lead via a Clint Dempsey penalty kick following a handball from Rapids defender Marvell Wynne. The U.S. Men’s National Team captain tapped home a chipped effort from the penalty spot, leaving Rapids goalkeeper Clint Irwin helplessly diving as the Sounders took a 1-0 lead.
Just 15 minutes later, Martins doubled the lead by using his pace and positioning to get behind the Rapids back line.
Martins timed his run perfectly for a Dempsey through ball, bolting past the defense and towards Irwin, who charged out to meet the Nigerian forward. Martins calmly faked a shot before firing past Irwin for his first goal of the game.
Dempsey added another assist in the 33rd minute by playing a beautiful backheel pass into the path of Marco Pappa, who chipped Irwin to push the lead to three.
The Rapids pulled one back via a scrappy finish from Deshorn Brown in the 43rd minute, but Martins ended the Rapids’ hopes with his second goal of the game in the 70th minute.
The Nigerian’s finish proved to be an easy one due to the handiwork of Lamar Neagle, who dribbled into space on the left side before rolling a cross through the Rapids box. Neagle’s pass slid all the way to the far post, where Martins was waiting to finish from close range for his 17th goal of the season.
With the victory, the Sounders pick up their 60th point of the season, which sees the U.S. Open Cup champions equal to the LA Galaxy. Sunday’s victory lines up what is essentially winner-take-all home-and-home series with the Galaxy on Oct. 19 and 25.
However, before the Sounders can focus on the Galaxy, they must first take on the Vancouver Whitecaps, who are in a fight for points in the midst of a tight playoff race. Meanwhile, the Rapids prepare for a trip to StubHub Center for a clash with Chivas USA Oct. 11.
Here are the match highlights: