Sometimes a pre-match discussion scenario forecasts what will happen on the field and this was one of those occasions as Colorado Rapids scored a 1-0 victory over the Seattle Sounders.
Prior to Saturday night’s MLS matchup between the host Rapids and the visiting Sounders, an observation was made about forward Conor Casey that highlighted how the game was ultimately decided.
To paraphrase a famous saying, “Hell hath no fury like a prospective World Cup player scorned.”
Casey, a former Portland University flash named “Freshman of the Year”, had 2000 Olympic Games experience and was hopeful of landing on this year’s U.S. World Cup team. Forecasters said that the sturdy, broad-shouldered Casey would have increasing motivation to show his worth as a star player in the upcoming MLS match against the Sounders.
In addition to the motivation factor, the warning was conveyed that here was a player due to reach the scoreboard. Casey has scored three goals this season, but all were on penalty kicks. It was the unfortunate destiny of the Emerald City squad to be in the path of a seemingly inevitable result, that of a key scorer finally producing a goal.
In a tug of war before a sellout crowd of 18,116 at Dick Sporting Goods Park, Casey achieved that elusive first regular action goal with one forward assault down the right side, as Sounders defender and recent signee Jeff Parke doggedly pursued.
Eventually, Parke fell to the ground amid the step by step race.
Casey had his chance. In the manner of superb players, he capitalized, driving a shot from the top of the box into the far corner of the net for his fourth goal of the season, and his first from open play.
Once more, the forces of Coach Sigi Schmid were on the wrong side of a 1-0 score. Also, as reminiscent of the past, there were scoring opportunities but no goals by the end of play.
At the 39 minute mark, Patrick Ianni had a scoring opportunity on a Fredy Montero cross. The rebound fell to his feet. Ianni delivered a blast from 18 yards out that sailed just wide of the far post.
In the 58th minute, just five minutes before Casey notched the evening’s only score, Steve Zakuani came close from the left side of the box. His right-footed effort was deflected out by Marvell Wynne.
Two other kicks from Freddie Ljungerg and Fredy Montero sailed over the net when the target was in reach as the Sounders continued applying pressure throughout the match, coming close but failing to connect, a familiar Sounders story this season in close matches.
The teams ended up virtually tied in the shots department with Colorado at 10 and Seattle with 9. Colorado impressed, however, with five shots on goal to one for Seattle.
In this category, veteran team captain Kasey Keller kept the Sounders in the match with adept goal play, scoring 4 saves. His first at the 9 minute mark was the defensive play of the match on a Julien Baudet header.
The victory moved Colorado into loftier Western Conference ground. The Rapids’ 5-3-1 mark with 16 points moved them into a three way third place tie.
The Sounders dropped to 3-5-3 and 12 points. They are in a sixth place tie and have yet to taste victory against a Western rival.
The quest for a first victory against a Western Conference rival will have to wait until the World Cup break.
If the Sounders can win their next two tests against Eastern Conference rivals, however, they can move up to the five hundred mark at 5-5-3 before action is suspended.
Two home contests remain before the break. The first is June 5 against the Philadelphia Revolution at 7:30 PM Pacific time. On June 10 at 7 PM PT, D.C. United will furnish the opposition.