“Sometimes you eat the bear, and sometimes, the bear, well, he eats you.” - The Stranger, Big Lebowski.
Fans were just getting into their seats when Clint Dempsey scored in the 6th minute to take the visitors up one to nil. Joevin Jones dribbled in slowly from the left side, as Eric Miller and Mekeil Williams both marked Will Bruin at the back post, and Mike da Fonte decided to follow Nicolas Lodeiro away from the goal. Clint Dempsey strolled into the empty space by the near post, received the pass, and slotted it home.
Colorado spent the better part of the first half struggling to organize themselves. Some poor first touches, strong Seattle defense through the middle, and an oddly lopsided and disorganized Rapids attack kept the team from mounting much of a challenge through the first frame. The Rapids mustered only four shots through the first 45 minutes - two were blocked and two were way off target. And although the Rapids possessed the ball more in both halves and ended the game with a 65-35 advantage in possession, most of it was recirculating the ball around the back, or working the ball up the wings and then flinging a desperate cross into the box, without luck.
In the 30th minute, Seattle doubled their luck. Nico Lodeiro lofted a long pass into the box, and Eric Miller twisted the wrong way for it, gifting a play for Will Bruin. The Dancing Bear beat Tim Howard to his left, and the Rapids would go to the half with a steep hill to climb.
Colorado played a rough and physical match, and were lucky at times to escape without certain players picking up a second yellow. There were several stoppages to deal with banged heads or twisted legs, and for the Sounders, both Osvaldo Alonso and Chad Marshall would come off hurt. By the end of the match, Mekeil Williams, Nana Boateng, Dominique Badji, Mike da Fonte, and Alan Gordon would all get yellow cards.
Colorado put four attackers high on the defensive line to start the second half and pushed their fullbacks wide too, relying on long balls and crosses to hopefully break a very tight and defensive Seattle team. The Rapids banged on the door fruitlessly throughout the second half, including a frustrating miss in front of net for Alan Gordon in the 74th minutes and a fantastic save from Stefan Frei in the 76th. But finally, in the 78th minute Badji would break through. Micheal Azira struck a long diagonal that found Marlon Hairston along the right side. Marlon raced forward and drove a ground cross to the back post, finding Dom Badji - it was a goal we’d seen in near reverse, Badji to Hairston, from left to right, just three nights earlier.
The Rapids looked capable of stealing a point from an underwhelming performance, and the crowd put it’s energy behind the team. Stefan Frei restarted after a Rapids miss in the 84th with a long goal kick to a leaping Will Bruin. The ball flicked on past, and Clint Dempsey ran past Mike da Fonte and volley the ball into the perfect spot to effectively end the match.
MLS goes into hibernation during the CONCACAF Gold Cup, so it’ll be a few weeks until the Rapids can begin the second half of the MLS season. As it stands, Colorado has gathered just 19 points with a 6-1-11 (WTL) record, good enough (or bad enough) for 10th place in the Western Conference. Thankfully, a weaker Western Conference means Colorado is only five points below the playoff red line, and the transfer window opens in just a week. But if they want to make up that gap, they’ll have to beat the teams above them when given the chance.