COMMERCE CITY, Colo. - Major League Soccer is a physical league.
Exhibit A for that case took place at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado, where the Sounders FC dropped a 1-0 defeat to the Colorado Rapids in front of 18,116 in attendance.
The match was a wrestling match from opening kick to final whistle and Conor Casey, the physical Rapids forward scored the game’s lone goal in the 63rd minute. The Sounders FC had nine shots in the match, but only got one on target and fell 1-0 for the second consecutive week.
“I think all the boys were fighting real hard but the way that level of the game was allow to play there was little chances,” Sounders FC midfielder Freddie Ljungberg said. “It was typical but very difficult and disappointing.”
The Sounders defensive line of James Riley, Jeff Parke, Tyrone Marshall and Leo Gonzalez held the dynamic duo of Casey and Omar Cummings at bay for the entire first half, but Casey got the best of Parke on a physical play in the second half to put the Rapids up 1-0.
Parke cut off a pass to Casey at the top of the box, but Casey shoved the Seattle defender to the ground and touched the ball to the right side of the box. He then chased it down and rainbowed a shot over the head of the oncoming Keller and into the net for his fourth goal of the season to put the Rapids up 1-0.
“It was a battle for the ball. It looked like they tussled for it and Parke ended up on the ground,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “Conor did well and saw that Kasey was out and he chipped him into the far corner.”
Controversy struck again minutes later when Seattle got the ball into Colorado’s end up the left side. Seattle moved to cross the ball into the box only to have the ball batted down by the hand of a Colorado defender. The referee ruled that it was a ball-to-hand situation and that the defender didn’t make an effort to stop the ball with his hand and Colorado maintained their 1-0 lead.
Seattle had their share of chances, but Patrick Ianni had their only shot on goal, hammering a 28-yard volley, but Matt Pickens knocked it away for his only save of the night.
In first-half stoppage time Ljungberg got out for a run up the left side, but his shot under duress from defender Marvell Wynne missed over the crossbar. Several other times throughout the match the Sounders had crosses sent across the front of the goal, but were unable to put the final touch on them and they were left scoreless for the third straight league game.
“It is never too early to think about our points so far. Points are worth the same now as it is in the end,” Schmid said. “It has been frustrating because I don’t think we have walked off the field being an outplayed team. We just have to keep working and keep our belief in ourselves.”
The loss dropped the Sounders FC to 3-5-3 on the season while the Rapids improved to 5-3-1.
“We have to be patient but at the same time we have to have that killer instinct. Whether it is the last pass, shot, cross, whatever it is we just have to be precise and right now we are just a little bit off and it is costing us goals,” said Pat Noonan, who returned to the starting lineup after suffering a hamstring strain against FC Dallas on April 22.
The Sounders will have a chance to bounce back Saturday at Qwest Field against the New England Revolution.
Rapids - Conor Casey 63.
Sounders FC - None.
Rapids - Matt Pickens, Marvell Wynne, Julien Baudet, Drew Moor, Danny Earls, Pablo Mastroeni, Mehdi Ballouchy, Jeff Larentowicz, Wells Thompson (Colin Clark 61), Omar Cummings (Quincy Amarikwa 89), Conor Casey.
Sounders FC - Kasey Keller, James Riley, Tyrone Marshall, Jeff Parke, Leo Gonzalez, Patrick Ianni, Freddie Ljungberg, Brad Evans, Pat Noonan (Roger Levesque 83), Fredy Montero (Miguel Montaño 76), Steve Zakuani (Sanna Nyassi 63).