In the deafening noise of 42,674 Sounders fans and 100 hardy Coloradans clad in burgundy, the Seattle Sounders were able to conjure a little more magic than their Western Conference rivals the Colorado Rapids, earning a 2-1 victory to send the game back to Commerce City.
The game began with a rare sight: an early Rapids goal. With a slicing nine-iron of a shot from the left corner of the box, it was Designated Player Kevin Doyle that got the Rapids off and running. In the 13th minute, Colorado got the game off to a smashing start with the all-important away goal. What looked like a stabbing Jermaine Jones one-time ball to Shkelzen Gashi ended up a perfect dummy to a wide open Doyle, who buried the 16 yarder.
But Seattle would answer. Six minutes later at the 19 minute mark, Seattle would get a goal care of its wunderkids, Cristian Roldan and Jordan Morris. Roldan drove from deep through the midfield and ripped a ball low and to the left, but it pinged off the post. Morris, the Stanford graduate and MLS rookie, was there to ram it home, drawing the game even. The Sounders were the better team for the rest of the half, testing Zac MacMath for two fantastic saves and getting the Rapids to the half 1-1.
Seattle came out at the half running at the Rapids. Their ferocity paid off after 15 minutes. Seattle moved the ball to the flank and dribbled their way into the Rapids 18 yard box. After a couple of pinball deflections, Nicolas Lodeiro and Marc Burch raced for a loose ball 4 yards wide of the right post. The Rapids left back looked to try and body the little Uruguayan playmaker away from the ball, but he put too much hip into it. Referee Chris Penso did not hesitate to point to the spot. When asked after the game about it, Coach Pablo Mastroeni first replied, “What, you want to get me in trouble with the league?” He then responded with the more diplomatic answer: “We control what we control.”
The Rapids defense was stalwart throughout the game, but especially in the second half,. The tackles and clearances were crisp, but clean. Offensively, however, Colorado failed to create and connect as effectively as they have shown in past matches. Nonetheless, the Rapids emerged with the ever-valuable away goal and only a one goal deficit before the return match next Sunday at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.