Photo by Jane Gershovich
By JASON MITCHELL
SEATTLE– What a difference four days — and perhaps the hapless Colorado Rapids — make.
Coming off a scoreless and fairly listless draw against Sporting Kansas City on Saturday, the Seattle Sounders attacked the Rapids early on Wednesday night, riding a first-half Marco Pappa strike to a 1-0 win in front of 39,757 at CenturyLink Field.
The Sounders (7-3-2, 23 points) now boast the best record in MLS and have beaten the Rapids in five straight regular season matches by a combined score of 13-3. The Rapids (2-2-8, 20 points) earned just their second win of the season last weekend, but fell to last place in the Western Conference with Wednesday’s loss. Colorado is also 0-8-1 in nine visits to Seattle.
Pappa opened the scoring in fine fashion in just the 15th minute, collecting a deflected cross just outside the penalty area and bending a right-footed shot into the far upper corner for the 1-0 lead. The left-footed Pappa nearly doubled the lead from the same spot early in the second half, but rifled a shot just over the crossbar.
The Rapids showed better in the second half after coming out flat, but never put a shot on-target from within the penalty area.
After allowing the Sounders to knock the ball around at will for 45 minutes, the Rapids brought on Juan Ramirez for Gabriel Torres to start the second half. The 22-year-old Argentine immediately sparked Colorado’s attack, but the Rapids never threatened Frei despite managing 13 second-half shots.
19-year-old midfielder Christian Roldan earned some of Seattle’s best looks of the second half, but zipped a long-range shot just over the crossbar before finding a closer attempt blocked by defender Jared Watts. It was Roldan’s first start at CenturyLink Field.
Clint Dempsey found himself wide-open at the top of the arc in the 77th minute, but failed to challenge Clint Irwin. Moments later Dempsey worked a give-and-go with Obafemi Martins, dragging defenders across the heart of the area with the ball at his feet before scooting a shot just past the near post.
The Sounders had multiple chances to put the game away late, but were consistently let down by heavy touches and poor finishing.
The Rapids were lucky to escape the first half down just a goal, as a makeshift back line labored all half and consistently struggled to clear its line, spoonfeeding multiple chances to a hungry Sounders attack.
Forward Luis Solignac earned the first good look for the Rapids in the 26th minute, but scooted an open shot from the right side all the way to the left touchline. Colorado scraped together a bit of possession as the half wound to a close, but a surprisingly dangerous Kevin Doyle attempt from 30-yards out was the Rapids lone shot on target in the first 45 minutes.
Looking forward, the Rapids host the Portland Timbers on Saturday, while the Sounders host the New York Red Bulls on Sunday.