In a game with new faces dotting the starting lineup, a handful of original Sounders made the difference Sunday in Seattle’s win at Qwest Field.
Steve Zakauni scored both Seattle goals.
Fredy Montero had a hand in starting both scoring plays.
And veteran goalkeeper Kasey Keller made a one-goal lead stand up over the final 73 minutes as the Sounders beat Colorado, 2-1.
“Obviously, we’re pleased with the three points,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “The team showed a lot of grit and determination. At the beginning of the year we had some games where we played some good soccer and didn’t come out with anything. Right now we need to get points, and sometimes that means rolling up your sleeves.”
Seattle (6-8-4) moves into ninth place in a league that sends its top eight finishers into the playoffs. Now just one point ahead is a three-way cluster of Colorado (6-5-5), Toronto and San Jose.
The Earthquakes will be Seattle’s next league opponent. But first, the Sounders had to take care of business against Colorado.
The match started like a Wild West shootout, with three goals clustered between the eighth and 17th minute.
The barrage started with Montero working hard for possession in the top of the penalty area and popping the ball out to Zakuani.
Zakuani took one inside touch to find some space and then fired low. The ball hit the near post but ricocheted off Colorado keeper Matt Pickens and into the goal.
It was the first goal Colorado had allowed in the first 15 minutes of any game this season – the last MLS team to allow such an early goal. It was the league-high sixth such goal for the Sounders.
“It was a bit of ping-pong in the box, and the ball fell to me,” Zakuani said. “It was about getting a quick release and I did maybe get a bit lucky.”
The Rapids answered almost instantly, as Omar Cummings sizzled one inside the far post from the top of the penalty area, beating Keller high and wide.
Seattle jumped back ahead in the 17th minute after Montero made a long pass to Sanna Nyassi, who carried into the penalty box and rolled a pass across the goal mouth, where Zakuani knocked it in.
Nyassi had been a surprise starter after Pat Noonan was hurt Saturday in training. And Blaise Nkufo made a relatively quiet MLS debut.
“We scored two good goals,” Schmid said. “Obviously they got right back in it after we scored our first one. But we came back and got the second one, and in the second half we had to dig in a little bit.”