Saturday was gorgeous, as the Seattle Sounders romped over the Colorado Rapids. Beating the Rapids was very satisfying, especially because so recently the Seattle franchise teetered at the cusp of decline.
Flashback: October 5, 2013. Things Fall Apart.
After dismantling league-leading Real Salt Lake, the Seattle Sounders had climbed atop the MLS Supporter’s Shield race. Having drawn against both the Eastern Conference-leading New York Red Bulls and defending champion Los Angeles Galaxy, Seattle flew to Commerce City to dispatch the upstart Rapids and reclaim their Shield. Instead, Rapids rookie Deshorn Brown scored in the fourteen seconds, an embarrassment the Sounders never recovered from as Colorado destroyed Seattle 5-1. Even the Colorado supporters piled on, chanting, “Portland’s better” from the stands.
It seemed one of those bellwether moments, when one franchise usurps another. The Rapids were a young and improving squad, with an embarrassment of talent in their system and a sharp coach driving the rise. Their young guns had just embarrassed Seattle’s expensive veterans.
April 26, 2014: A Terrible Beauty is Born.
What a difference a year makes. Saturday’s game was a bounty of beautiful soccer from the Seattle Sounders. This time, Sounders fans could sit back, relax and watch their boys dismantle the opposition, knowing their franchise was squarely set towards bigger and better things.
I expected a win not a rout. I expected two teams with solidifying identities and quality, playing the beautiful game, another fine advertisement for the league. I was excited to see our juggernaut offense match up against a surprisingly robust Rapids defense.
Colorado is playing gritty soccer. Maybe I gave former coach Oscar Pareja too much credit, assuming the franchise would lose steam and stumble into mediocrity, especially after waiting so long to name former USMNT veteran Pablo Mastroeni coach. But Mastroeni had his defense was near the top of the league behind only stalwarts Sporting Kansas City and the Galaxy (however I suspect L.A. can’t keep their pace with all the injuries they’ve suffered on the backline). Going into Saturday’s game, Colorado was ceding only .833 goals a game, while Seattle were scoring an even pair. Something had to give.
It was the Colorado defense that gave. We dressed Colorado down. Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins continued their gross statistical plundering, and even Chad Marshall got involved in the attack. I was glad to see Lamar Neagle, who I keep doubting, again show up at the right place, at the right time and kick start the goal machine. He may not be the thrust or burn, but this is two weeks straight where Neagle’s been the pilot light.
Two other players deserving of the Rave are Ozzie Alonso, who was just on fire, and Dylan Remick. His doggedness in the box created this goal. Remick has potentially cracked my ideal eleven, as he adds speed and persistence in the final third without sacrificing much defensively. However, the Sounders still couldn’t keep a clean sheet. We seem to be able to expect one defensive brain fart a game. At least we still have something to nitpick about.
Maybe I am a terrible jinx, but look at the league table! (click to enlarge)
I know it is early, and if this were the NFL, the Sounders would only be sitting at 3-1. I don’t care. I feel we are the best team on the continent. Bring on Cruz Azul, Santos, anyone! The run to the cup starts now!