Two of the Seattle Sounders attacking talismans have the club 90 minutes away from MLS Cup.
On a rainy night but in front of 42,774 at CenturyLink Field, it was Jordan Morris and Nicolas Lodeiro who keyed the home side to victory. Their goals helped erase an early deficit and assure the Sounders a 2-1 win over the Colorado Rapids in the first leg of the MLS Western Conference Championship.
Jordan Morris, Nicolas Lodeiro Spearhead Seattle Sounders 2-1 Comeback Win
Sounders manager Brian Schmetzer made one change from the starting XI that played in both legs against FC Dallas. Panamanian center back Roman Torres got the start in place on Tuesday in place of Zach Scott. Lodeiro and Morris occupied opposing wings in Schmetzer’s 4-2-3-1 formation with Nelson Valdez taking up the point striker role up top.
Tim Howard‘s adductor injury suffered while playing for the USMNT forced the Rapids to go with Zac MacMath in goal. It was his first start since September 3rd and just the second since Howard joined the team. Other than that, Pablo Mastroeni sent out the same starting XI from their penalty shootout win over the LA Galaxy in the previous round. Kevin Doyle, normally a center forward, was slotted into a more withdrawn attacking midfield role once more.
It was the visiting team that got things going first in the goal-scoring department. The 13th minute tally came off some fantastic build-up play. Jermaine Jones sent in a through ball which was dummied by Gashi who saw an oncoming Doyle making a diagonal run towards goal. The Irish international fired it at goal, benefiting from a deflection off Chad Marshall that made it virtually impossible for Stefan Frei to save.
But the lead wouldn’t last long. Six minutes later, it was Morris who equalized things for the Sounders. The reigning rookie of the year was at the right place at the right time when a Christian Roldan shot ricocheted off the post. The ball came right to Morris who put the rebound past MacMath to tie things up, 1-1.
Both sides had two shots apiece the rest of the way in the first half. But the score remained knotted up as the halftime whistle blew.
It remained that way for the first third of the second half. But then Marc Burch took Lodeiro down in the box, leaving referee Chris Penso no other choice but to point to the spot. The Uruguayan playmaker left no doubt about the ensuing penalty kick, blasting it past MacMath in the 61st minute.
The Sounders’ two goals came on eight chances created, four of which came from Lodeiro. Colorado had the same number of chances created on the game. Both teams had four which occurred in and around the box.
But the Rapids, despite having six fewer total shots, actually had more which forced a save out of Frei. The Rapids finished the game with seven attempts on target compared to the Sounders six. Five of those came in the second half.
Colorado found themselves in a similar situation after the first leg of the previous round against LA. Needing a 1-0 win over 90 minutes to extend the game into extra time, the Rapids went out and got it, eventually winning in penalty kicks. Only this time, a similar result would see them clinch a spot in MLS Cup.
A 2-1 win by the Rapids in the second leg means they would play 30 extra minutes and potentially have to deal with PKs for the second consecutive series. Any other scenario in which the final result is a one-goal win for Colorado means Seattle would advance due to away goals. Either way, both sides have to feel like there are positives to be gleaned from Tuesday’s result.
The two sides return to action this coming Sunday with the return leg in Commerce City, CO. Kickoff is set for 1 PM Pacific Time with the match being televised on ESPN.