COMMERCE CITY, Colorado – The Sounders FC has been riding a wave of momentum behind All-Stars Eddie Johnson and Osvaldo Alonso in recent weeks. That tidal wave continued to roll on Saturday night at Dick's Sporting Goods Park as Seattle topped the Colorado Rapids 2-1, getting goals from their two All-Stars to extend their unbeaten streak to five straight matches in MLS play.
The match also saw the return of goalkeeper Michael Gspurning, who missed the last 13 matches with a hip injury and came up strong with three saves and several clearances to help hold off Colorado and lift the Sounders to third place in the Western Conference at 9-5-7 (34 points).
"We hung in there and battled. Michael Gspurning came up with a big save there and I'm pleased with us being able to get three points," Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said.
The match got out to a frenzied start as the Sounders scored their fastest goal in club history on Johnson's second-minute header.
Fredy Montero earned a corner kick, then Mauro Rosales played the ball to Johnson all alone in the middle of the box for a header that Johnson put inside the far post for his ninth goal of the season.
It was the team-leading seventh assist on the year for Rosales.
The lead didn't last long though.
Colorado quickly put the Sounders defense under duress with a corner kick of their own. After Seattle cleared the initial play, Brian Mullan got into the corner and played a ball across the box for Drew Moor, who tapped it in for his third goal of the season, tying it at 1-1 in the third minute.
"It was a great corner and header by Eddie … but then we gave the goal back right away," Schmid said. "Next time we've got to hold on to it a bit longer."
The action continued at a frenetic pace in the altitude of Colorado and Gspurning held off the Rapids' efforts to take the lead.
Conor Casey tested him on several occasions with shots from outside the box and forced him into a key grab off a cross from the left side in the first half, as Gspurning grasped the ball despite a hearty collision with Casey.
That continued at the start of the second half, but the Sounders withstood the attack, then pulled ahead in the 65th minute.
After a great combination play up the left side by Fredy Montero, Johnson and Alex Caskey, Johnson played a cross to Alonso alone 12 yards out from the far post. With plenty of time and space, Alonso turned a left-footed side-winding volley into the net for his first goal of the season and a 2-1 lead.
"I think it was one of the best Ozzie's scored for us and he's scored some good goals in the Open Cup," Schmid said. "I thought the build-up was very good. It was definitely a nice goal to win it."
For the final 25 minutes, the Sounders showed a commitment to defense, blocking shots and forcing the Rapids into difficult positions.
Finishing the match with six defenders on the field, Seattle held on for their sixth straight victory over the Rapids.
They return home to CenturyLink Field to face Caledonia AIA in the CONCACAF Champions League on Thursday, then return to MLS play to host the LA Galaxy on Sunday.
Sounders FC – Eddie Johnson (Mauro Rosales) 2; Osvaldo Alonso (Eddie Johnson, Alex Caskey) 65.
Rapids – Drew Moor (Brian Mullan) 3.
Sounders FC – None.
Rapids – None.
Sounders FC – Michael Gspurning, Adam Johansson, Jeff Parke, Patrick Ianni, Leo Gonzalez, Mauro Rosales, Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans (Marc Burch 83), Alex Caskey (Andy Rose 80), Eddie Johnson, Fredy Montero (Zach Scott 88).
Rapids – Matt Pickens, Drew Moor, Marvell Wynne, Tyrone Marshall, Luis Zapata, Jeff Larentowicz, Joseph Nane (Wells Thompson 62), Brian Mullan (Andre Akpan 80), Martin Rivero, Conor Casey, Omar Cummings (Kamani Hill 62).