Colorado Rapids (6-4-5, tied for 4th in the West)
Head coach: Gary Smith, third year
Last week: Tied Kansas City 1-1 at home
Last year: 10-10-10, missed playoffs via tiebreaker
KEY RAPIDS PLAYERS
F Conor Casey — It starts with the big guy up front, he’s the game-changer. Sure, he’s just scored once (I believe) from the run of play, but that goal was a masterpiece and a game-winner against Seattle in the first meeting.
M Omar Cummings — Explosive, dynamic, facing a back-up left back. This Jamaican speedster caused the Sounders backline all sorts of problems, Leo Gonzalez especially, back in May.
M Jeff Larentowicz — An underrated piece in the Rapids midfield. He’s played just about every minute for his new team since coming from New England. You’d probably never guess he’s third on the team in shots taken, with 18.
Sounders FC forward Blaise Nkufo v. Colorado defender Drew Moor — The friendly was one thing, now Seattle will need its new DP to perform. With Julien Baudet, a physical Frenchman injured, Moor will probably draw the main defensively duties on the big guy. We’ll see who wins.
Cummings v. back-up Sounders FC left back — Leo Gonzalez is suspended for this one due to yellow-card accumulation. Is his replacement going to be Tyson Wahl? Is it going to be Zach Scott? Or someone else? Expect a lot of the Rapids attack to come down the right flank.
Sounders FC form v. Colorado Rapids form — In it’s last five competitive games, Seattle is 3-1-1. Colorado is 0-1-4 in its last five MLS game. Will those trends continue? They will if the Sounders score first, since the Rapids are 0-47-16 in the last four years after going down 1-0.
The proverbial six-point game. If Seattle wins it pulls to within a point of the Rapids, but if they lose the club will be seven points back. In the absence of Freddie Ljungberg, the Sounders have stressed team spirit and fight. So we’ll see if the home team plays with that back-to-the-wall urgency.
It’s been a while since Seattle won at Qwest Field (3-0 against New England on June 5), and I think the crowd goes home happy. Credit the 36,000 with an assist.
Sounders FC 2, Colorado Rapids 1
SEA: Montero (Zakuani) 30′
COL: Casey (Ballouchy) 39′
SEA: Nkufo (Sturgis) 57′