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Rapids pound lifeless Sounders, 5-1
Seattle gives up four first-half goals, including one 13 seconds into the game.
Special to the Seattle Times
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COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Primed to clinch a MLS playoff spot for its fifth straight season with a win on Saturday night, the Sounders instead turned in arguably their worst half of the season, giving up four goals in the first 41 minutes en route to a 5-1 pounding on the road against tenacious Colorado.
Seattle (51 points, 15-9-6) will have to wait until it hosts Vancouver on Wednesday for its next shot to punch a ticket to the playoffs. The Sounders still have four games remaining and are in comfortable position to make the postseason, but the lopsided defeat to the Rapids (48 points, 13-9-9) stings nonetheless.
“Colorado was better than us today,” Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said. “You can’t walk on the field and assume you are going to be in the game.”
Seattle came into the game undefeated (5-0-2) in its previous seven games. Even with the loss the Sounders remain in second place in the Western Conference.
Seattle played without forward Obafemi Martins and midfielder Clint Dempsey, who didn’t make the trip due to injuries.
“It wouldn’t have made a difference,” Schmid said of missing the pair. “When you are asleep at the beginning of the game, you are going to pay the price.”
Add to the mix that the Rapids, playing in front of a sellout crowd of 18,076, needed the win desperately, as they are fighting for the fifth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
The Sounders defense in the first half was slow and passive against an opportunistic Rapids attack. On offense, Seattle was unable to mount deep attacks and win duels despite having the advantage in possession in the first half. Colorado had a 12-4 edge in overall shots and a 7-1 lead in shots on goal in the first half.
Rapids rookie Deshorn Brown took a pass from teammate Gabriel Torres on the opening possession and converted a sliding five-yard goal from the left flank past Seattle goalie Michael Gspurning just 13 seconds into the game. It was the second-earliest goal in MLS history.
Colorado tacked on a second goal in the 10th minute off a quick corner kick by Vicente Sanchez. Colorado’s Dillon Powers, who forged some wiggle room away from Jhon Kennedy Hurtado in the middle of the penalty area, headed an 8-yarder past a diving Gspurning.
“Colorado did a good job of taking advantage of that (Seattle’s slow start) but you can’t give up a goal in the first 30 seconds of the game,” Schmid said. “The first corner kick goal they got, we were asleep on as well. We didn’t get back and get into position, and then you are down 2-0, so now you are chasing a game.”
In the 31st minute Colorado struck again as Brown scored off a 7-yard left-footed boot after beating DeAndre Yedlin down the left side.
Colorado scored again in the 41st minute off another corner kick by Sanchez. The ball grazed the foot of Colorado’s Hendry Thomas, and Drew Moor finished off the goal from 3 yards out.
Colorado could have scored a few more goals in the first half but Gspurning made two point-blank saves on Sanchez and Powers in the 39th minute.
Seattle showed some life in the second half, playing much better defensively and garnering scoring opportunities — primarily for Eddie Johnson, who scored in the 63rd minute from 6 yards out with a Rapids defender in tow.
Johnson also had two would-be goals denied from a few yards as Rapids goalie Clint Irwin made two successive spectacular saves in the 51st minute. Johnson also hit the cross bar on a 22-yard left-footed laser in the 68th minute.
Colorado finished it off with Torres blasting a 17-yard goal past Gspurning in stoppage play for the final 5-1 tally.
• Sounders defender Zach Scott will miss the next two games due to receiving two yellow cards in the game and his fifth for the season.