Colorado Rapids 0-1 Seattle Sounders: Costly Win For Visitors

Seattle wins and loses - they defeat the Rapids, but lose star Steve Zakuani to a hard tackle by Brian Mullan.
The Sounders (2-2-3) extended their winning streak to five games, but lost midfielder Steve Zakuani for possibly the rest of the 2011 season. Despite playing with ten men, Colorado (3-3-0) threatened on numerous occasions in an attempt to salvage one point at home, but the man disadvantage was too much to overcome.  It was Colorado's third straight defeat.     

First Half

The Rapids went down a man in the third minute of play when Brian Mullan was issued a red card by referee Silviu Petrescu.  A loud snap could clearly be heard as Mullan’s sliding tackle missed the ball and made contact with midfielder Steve Zakuani’s right leg.  Seattle’s former first round draft pick needed a stretcher to be taken off the pitch.  The initial diagnosis was a fracture to the right leg. Head coach Sigi Schmid inserted Alvaro Fernandez to replace Zakuani.

Seattle’s Fredy Montero notched his first goal of the year in the 19th minute.  Forward O’Brian White streaked down the right side of pitch.  He found midfielder Mauro Rosales to his left.  With Montero wide open in front of the goal, Rosales’ pass was shot by the Colombian past a diving Matt Pickens and into the net.  Montero’s tally ended a goal-less streak that dated back to August of 2010.

The depleted Colorado team threatened in the 29th minute to tie the match on a mistake by Seattle midfielder Osvaldo Alonso.  The Rapids’ Pablo Mastroeni flailed at the ball at Alsonso’s feet while on his back near the 18-yard box.  He managed to direct the ball towards Caleb Folan inside the penalty area.  Seattle ‘keeper Kasey Keller raced to the ball and kicked it away to safety to stop the threat.

Colorado maintained the possession advantage for the rest of the half.  Seattle failed to build on their lead as the opening 45 minutes came to a close.   

Second Half

The home side kept the pressure on the Sounders in the opening five minutes of the second half.  Midfielder Jeff Larentowicz had wide open look near the top of the box.  He nailed a hard volley that required Keller to make a diving stop.

Colorado goalie Pickens came up big several minutes later on a point blank save on White.  The Seattle forward was parked outside the six-yard box.  He turned to his left and sent a hard shot along the ground.  Pickens fell to the pitch and extended his legs to make the save of the match to keep the Sounders’ advantage to one.

In the 63rd minute, Colorado kept pressuring Seattle’s defense.  Defender Kosuke Kimura let loose a strike from the far sideline.  Keller was properly positioned near the post and softly cradled the ball into his chest.   

As the match progressed into the latter stages of the half, the Rapids continued to dominate play in the Sounders’ third of the pitch.  The serious injury to Zakuani, the altitude in Commerce City and Colorado’s fitness may have played a role in Seattle’s inability to mount offensive attacks that should have yielded another tally.

Zakuani's leg injury is a blow to Seattle

The Rapids earned three corners in the closing minutes of regulation and into extra time.  Keller needed to make two fist saves to send the balls out of his nets and earn his first shutout of the year. 

Seattle mounted one last offensive threat in the last minute of extra time on Alonso’s long distance volley that required Pickens to make his final save of the night.

The Sounders return home next Saturday to host Toronto FC.  Colorado plays the Chicago Fire at home on the same day.

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