Four things we learned from 1-0 win over Colorado

The Sounders finally got their first victory of the season and it came in rather convincing fashion.

The Sounders FC earned their first win of the 2013 season on Saturday with a 1-0 victory over the Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

The road victory provided the Sounders with many lessons, but here are four things we
learned from the match.

Depth Matters

Both Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid and Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja had to do some late lineup shuffling before the match. For Schmid, it was due to discomfort in Eddie Johnson’s hamstring that kept the team’s leading scorer from 2012 from even traveling to Colorado. He wasn’t about to get any sympathy from Pareja though.

Already without starting goalkeeper Matt Pickens because of a broken forearm and several other key players, too, Pareja lost both starting forwards in the 24 hours before the match when Deshorn Brown suffered a thigh injury and Edson Buddle was a last-minute scratch after being announced in the starting lineup.

The two teams adjusted well and got solid play from their forwards, though it was the Sounders who would leave smiling with a 1-0 victory.

Defense reigns

The Sounders have developed a bit of a mantra that if they get the defense right and hold their opponent to zero, they are guaranteed at least a point. Over the last two matches, they have accomplished that feat with two straight shutouts and on Saturday, it was a full-team defensive effort that garnered that success. Michael Gspurning was good when he needed to be and great when he had to be. The four defenders in front of him did well to keep the ball out of dangerous areas and in those rare moments when Colorado was able to gain a momentary advantage, Seattle’s defense collapsed on them to limit their scoring opportunities.

Add to that the efforts of Brad Evans, Osvaldo Alonso, Shalrie Joseph and later Alex Caskey and the midfield made a strong contribution to the clean sheet too.

“We knew that they try and play balls forward, look for long balls. We knew we had to get up and win duels, win headers, and we did that,” Schmid said. “We also knew because they push their wide guys forward, that there’d be chances for us to get at them off the counter which we did as well.”

Obagoals happen

When the Sounders signed Obafemi Martins, they were hoping to find a goal-scorer to pair with Johnson and help elevate the club to a new level. Thus far, the duo has been very limited in their time together on the pitch because of injuries, but both have gotten on the scoreboard for the Sounders. On Saturday, Martins scored his first of the season and gave a glimpse of what Schmid and the Sounders were hoping for when they signed him.

“He gave everything he had for as long as he could, and obviously scored a great goal,” Schmid said. “I think our fans can see what he brings to the table.”

Neagle is getting comfortable

In Seattle’s last three matches, Lamar Neagle has played a forward role – something he hadn’t done on a consistent basis since winning the 2010 USL-2 MVP award. He scored a goal to give the Sounders life in the semifinals of the CONCACAF Champions League and earned two more starts, where he has seen continued success. On Saturday, he showed even more confidence, twice nearly scoring additional goals for Seattle and drawing praise from Schmid.

“The one that I thought deserved a goal based on his effort was Lamar Neagle because he ran all day today,” Schmid said. “I thought his running was pretty good as the game wore on. He did a much better job of pulling the ball up for us as well. Lamar has done well for us the last few games.”

The Sounders won’t play again until May 4 at PPL Park against the PPL Park against the Philadelphia Union.