Star players return as Sounders Women win 2-1 over Colorado
The Sounders Women won their W-League home opener Thursday against the Colorado Rush at a packed Starfire Stadium.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Latest from the Sounders FC blog
TUKWILA — The stars were back. At least for this game.
The Sounders Women returned to full strength for their W-League home opener Thursday and it showed in a better-than-it-looks 2-1 win against the Colorado Rush at a packed Starfire Stadium. Adjusting to the availability of their U.S. women's national team players will be a regular storyline this year.
Seattle (2-0) had opened the league season with a road win Sunday in Vancouver while Hope Solo, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Sydney Leroux, Stephanie Cox and Keelin Winters were in training camp with the national team.
"I think it's a matter of everyone understanding the bigger picture and the bigger message," said coach Michelle French. "It's understanding your role on the team, when we need you, and when you're out there you have to perform. The national team players did it today. In Vancouver, the rest of our team did it, as well."
Solo, Morgan, Rapinoe and Leroux were recently named to the U.S. Olympic team for the Summer Games in London.
For them, rotation continues in the next few days. Rapinoe indicated that they won't play Friday at the Victoria (B.C.) Highlanders, would be available for a home game Monday against Colorado Rapids Women and then will report back to the national team for Olympics preparation.
"A lot of us play together but still, being in a new environment, coming in with new players, it does make it difficult," Rapinoe said of the back-and-forth. "Hopefully (it will help) getting a few games under our belt. (Though we only get) two now and then we leave again."
The quality was clear Thursday as the Sounders dominated the scoring chances — with a 25-6 shot advantage — if not the final score.
Megan Manthey opened the scoring for Seattle in the 18th minute, set up by Leroux. Veronica Perez doubled the lead with a stunning 23-yard free kick in the 48th minute, set up when Morgan drew a foul.
A Mexican international, Perez has scored in each game in league (two) and preseason (three).
"It feels kind of good," she said of the personal hot streak. "As long as we keep winning and playing well, then I'm happy."
Colorado kept the score close thanks to 11 saves by goalkeeper Dayle Colpitts. Forward Lindsey Horan pulled a goal back in the 61st minute, but Seattle would hold on through a nervy second half.
Sounders goalkeeper Hope Solo, a Richland native, made four saves — including a diving stop worthy of the highlight reels in the 41st minute.
"Thankfully we had Hope," said French, "who made some pretty spectacular saves, which is why she's the best 'keeper in the world. Then we have world-class finishers up top that were about an inch off every time."
And chemistry will continue to grow, even if on a part-time basis.
Said defender Kelli Smith: "We're kind of used to that in-and-out process."
• Tickets for Sounders FC's U.S. Open Cup fourth-round game against amateur club Cal FC go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday. The match will be televised on the FOX Soccer channel, the network announced on Twitter.
• Steve Zakuani's availability was deemed "50-50" by coach Sigi Schmid for Sounders FC's 6 p.m. MLS Reserve League game Friday against Vancouver. The midfielder is still recovering from a broken leg suffered last April.
"We really backed off on him (Wednesday) because he was really sore," Schmid said. "We just want to make sure it's the right situation and if it isn't the right situation, we'll hold off. We're not stuck to a timetable."
• The Sounders decided to forego a regular day of practice Thursday. Instead, they played dodgeball. "We've talked about it and we've said it's been a long season ... and we needed to incorporate some things to just have some fun sometimes," Schmid said.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or email@example.com