Seattle - The Sounders FC saw all they hoped to see out of their final preseason match of the year. In a 3-1 victory over the Colorado Rapids, the Sounders played with high energy and got two goals and an assist from Fredy Montero all while limiting the Rapids to just a penalty kick.
“I was pleased tonight to see us score some goals. We were more aggressive with our style and tried to get behind the defense,” head coach Sigi Schmid said. “I was pleased with our attitude tonight in the game.”
The only negative that came from the match was that midfielders Brad Evans and Steve Zakuani left early with injuries. More will be known about their statuses when the team returns to training on Thursday morning.
However, the injuries - like the rain that drenched the Xbox Pitch - couldn’t dampen the spirits of the Sounders as they head into MLS First Kick against the LA Galaxy on Tuesday night.
“It always is a better feeling coming out in this situation … with our fans here and have that nice feeling at Qwest and leaving a field scoring three goals and winning a ballgame,” said goalkeeper Kasey Keller, who finished with four saves in the win.
After a scoreless first half, the Sounders got on the board in the 60th minute.
Colorado was called for a foul 28 yards out on the right side. Osvaldo Alonso ran over the ball, leaving Montero to lift a ball into the box for Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, who powered a header into the net for a 1-0 lead.
The lead didn’t last, though, as Hurtado was whistled for a foul as Omar Cummings took the ball into the box in the 62nd minute, giving Colorado a penalty. Jeff Larentowicz blasted it down the middle while goalkeeper Kasey Keller dove to his right and the Rapids evened it up at 1-1 in the 63rd minute.
After the equalizer, O’Brian White came on and made a quick impact, setting up a goal for Montero just two minutes after subbing on.
Alvaro Fernandez sent a long ball into the box for White, who headed it back to Erik Friberg. The Swedish newcomer then slid the ball into the box for Montero up the right side and he knocked it inside the far post for a 2-1 lead in the 68th minute.
In the 78th minute, Pat Noonan sent a ball to White coming back to the middle and White led Montero into the same spot, where he again knocked it in for the 3-1 advantage.
“Our level at the second half was good. It’s good for us to have that game,” said Montero, who finished preseason with four goals. “We need to score goals to win, so that’s all we want to do every game.”
Goals aside, Montero showed things to Schmid that have the head coach confident that his top scorer is ready for the start of the season.
“His energy and his effort was good. I’m pleased with the two goals that he scored, especially the one from Friberg,” Schmid said. “If we get that kind of endeavor, that’s tremendous.”
The victory wrapped up a preseason that saw the club finish 5-4-2 and finished on a good note, with what White called the team’s most complete effort.
Even still they are cautious to put too much stock into a preseason result. Just as losses the previous week weren’t reason to panic, a convincing win against the defending MLS Cup champion isn’t reason enough to say the team is completely ready.
“You don’t know until you step on the field,” Keller said. “You just have to go out and hope that you’re ready for the day. It’s 34 games, so regardless of what happens in this first game - and of course we want to win and we want to exorcise some ghosts from last year - it’s a long season.”
The season gets under way on Tuesday against the Galaxy, who topped Seattle in all four MLS meetings last season. The Sounders will then face the New York Red Bulls on Saturday, March 19 at Red Bull Arena.
Sounders FC - Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (Fredy Montero) 60; Montero (Erik Friberg, O’Brian White) 67; Montero (White, Pat Noonan) 78.
Rapids - Jeff Larentowicz (PK) 63.
Sounders FC - Leo Gonzalez (caution) 57; Erik Friberg (caution) 86.
Rapids - None.
Sounders FC - Kasey Keller, James Riley, Jhon Kennedy Hurt ado (Patrick Ianni 85), Jeff Parke, Leo Gonzalez, Alvaro Fernandez (Pat Noonan 76), Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans (Erik Friberg 52), Steve Zakuani (Michael Tetteh 81), Fredy Montero (Lamar Neagle 81), Blaise Nkufo (O’Brian White 65).
Rapids - Matt Pickens (Steward Ceus 46), Kosuke Kimura, Drew Moor, Marvell Wynne, Anthony Wallace, Pablo Mastroeni (Joseph Nane 61), Jeff Larentowicz (Ross LaBauex 68), Jamie Smith (Quincy Amarikwa 71), Brian Mullan (Sanna Nyassi 71), Omar Cummings (Wells Thompson 71), Conor Casey (Andre Akpan 61).