First impressions from the Sounders 1-0 victory over Colorado on Saturday afternoon at CenturyLink Field thanks to Clint Dempsey’s 52nd-minute goal:
– Get used to this lineup
Though Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said after training this week that he only has an “idea” about his first-choice lineup, Saturday’s selections were telling.
The Sounders lineup was unchanged for the first time all season, with the same group that started the 4-2 victory in Portland last Sunday – Frei; Yedlin, Marshall, Scott, Gonzalez; Evans, Alonso, Pineda, Pappa; Dempsey, Martins – getting the nod again versus Colorado.
There will be continued tweaks and changes necessitated by injuries and national team duty, from Djimi Traore recovering from his quad injury to Marco Pappa’s Copa Centroamericana absence.
But expect to see this starting XI as the stretch run heats up.
– Patience is a virtue
Schmid also preached patience in breaking down the massed Rapids back line.
For a while, it looked a needless warning – Seattle smoothly passed the ball around and through Colorado for the opening half hour, with Pappa dancing out on the wing and Clint Dempsey a steady threat up top. But from the Sounders’ 61 percent possession the first half, they managed just a single shot on goal.
Seattle looked more potent after the halftime break and had its reward seven minutes after the interval, when Dempsey hammered Pappa’s corner into the net on the volley to open the scoring.
– Dempsey can create, too
The goal was Dempsey’s 11 of the season, lifting him into a tie for fifth in MLS despite his World Cup hiatus.
But he was even more impressive on Saturday as a facilitator.
Dempsey picked out runners on the wing with a series of through balls and dropped into the midfield to provide an outlet.
He found Brad Evans at the back post with a 58th-minute cross to nearly double Seattle’s lead and provide a flashpoint to a period of Sounder control.
Dempsey’s goal was a smooth exhibition of skill, and it was just one part of a well-rounded performance.
– Good for Joe Nasco
Colorado’s Nasco made his first-career MLS appearance in goal for the Rapids, completing a roundabout journey to the CenturyLink posts.
The 30-year-old rookie thought about giving up the game for good a few years ago after suffering through a string of injuries, taking a full-time job as a sheriff in Calhoun, Ga. But one last shot at 2012 open tryout with the Atlanta Silverbacks led to a second chance, and Nasco signed with Colorado this offseason to become the league’s only licensed law enforcement officer.
He stared out at Dempsey in the 42nd-minute with the World Cup veteran lining up a free kick and the “Seattle Sounders” call-and-response bouncing around the stadium. Nasco made a good read on his shot and gathered it to his chest.
There’s little he could have done on the goal, and a series of big saves on Dempsey and Obafemi Martins kept his team within striking distance all the way to the final whistle.