Preview: Losers of 5 straight, Rapids host rested Seattle

COLORADO RAPIDS vs SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC
DICK’S SPORTING GOODS PARK, Commerce City, Colo.
July 28, 2012 (WEEK 21, MLS Game #202)
9 pm ET / 7 pm MT (Altitude; KONG/KOMO2)

The Colorado Rapids and Seattle Sounders face off for the third time this season when the clubs meet in a key Western Conference clash on Saturday night at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. The Rapids come into the game looking to put an end to a five-game losing slide after last weekend’s 2-0 loss at Real Salt Lake. Sounders FC return to action after a weekend off, their last match a 2-2 draw at the New York Red Bulls.

REFEREE: Paul Ward. SAR (bench): Kevin Duliba; JAR (opposite): Chris Strickland; 4th: Mark Declouet
MLS Career: 36 games; FC/gm: 23.1; Y/gm: 3.6; R: 11; pens: 7

DOWNLOAD FULL GAME GUIDE HERE (PDF)

INJURY REPORT:

  • COLORADO RAPIDS – OUT: DF Anthony Wallace (L Achilles tear); MF Pablo Mastroeni (headaches); QUESTIONABLE: FW Conor Casey (L hamstring tightness); FW Edu (R foot contusion); PROBABLE: MF Jamie Smith (R ACL tear); FW Omar Cummings (L ankle sprain)
  • SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC – OUT: FW Babayele Sodade (R knee ACL tear); FW David Estrada (L foot fracture); QUESTIONABLE: GK Michael Gspurning (R hip strain); MF Alex Caskey (hamstring strain); GK Andrew Weber (R adductor strain); PROBABLE: MF Steve Zakuani (R leg fracture); MF Cordell Cato (L knee MCL sprain)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED: none
WARNINGS:

  • SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: SEA: Eddie Johnson, Andy Rose
  • SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: COL: Jaime Castrillon, Tyrone Marshall, Martin Rivero, Tyson Wahl… SEA: Fredy Montero, Zach Scott, Marc Burch

HEAD-TO-HEAD

ALL-TIME (7 meetings): Rapids 1 win, 8 goals … Sounders FC 6 wins, 15 goals … Ties 1
AT COLORADO (3 meetings): Rapids 1 win, 3 goals … Sounders FC 1 win, 3 goals … Ties 1

2012 (MLS):
4/14: SEA 1, COL 0 (Scott 63)
7/7: SEA 2, COL 1 (Fernandez 52; Johnson 64 – Cummings 79)
• The teams have already met twice this season, with Seattle winning both games at CenturyLink Field. A Zach Scott goal in the 63rd minute gave Sounders FC a 1-0 win April 14, then Sounders FC won 2-1 on July 7.
• Sounders FC have won the five meetings between the clubs. Colorado’s only victory in seven all-time league meetings came May 29, 2010 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
• Coaches record: Sigi Schmid vs. COL: P37 W20 L10 D7 … Oscar Pareja vs. SEA: P2 W0 L2 D0

LAST MEETING (MLS):
• Sounders FC took the lead after 52 minutes. A corner kick was half-cleared, but quickly worked back out to Mauro Rosales on the left flank. He again flighted the ball into the box and Alvaro Fernandez nodded home the perfectly placed service.
• Twelve minutes later, Sounders FC doubled the margin through very similar circumstances. Again Rosales sent in a ball from the left flank, and this time Eddie Johnson found himself with space inside the box and rose over the defense to head home.
• The Rapids pulled a goal back in the 79th minute when left back Luis Zapata perfectly curled a cross to Omar Cummings at the far post for an easy volleyed tap-in. A couple of minutes later, Cummings deflected a Jeff Larentowicz shot into the net, but the goal was ruled out for offside.
• SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC (4-4-1-1): Bryan Meredith - Adam Johansson, Jeff Parke, Patrick Ianni, Marc Burch - Alex Caskey, Osvaldo Alonso, Andy Rose, Alvaro Fernandez (Cordell Cato 81) - Mauro Rosales (Steve Zakuani 86) - Eddie Johnson (Fredy Montero 72)
• COLORADO RAPIDS (4-3-3): Matt Pickens - Hunter Freeman, Marvell Wynne, Drew Moor, Luis Zapata - Martin Rivero, Jeff Larentowicz, Jaime Castrillon (Tony Cascio 84) - Brian Mullan, Conor Casey (Edu 67), Jamie Smith (Omar Cummings 67).

COLORADO RAPIDS
The Colorado Rapids went down for a fifth consecutive time, dropping a 2-0 decision to Real Salt Lake on Saturday evening at Rio Tinto Stadium. The Rapids are in a tie for seventh place in the Western Conference with 22 points from 21 games.

LAST MATCH

HIGHLIGHTS: RSL 2, COL 0

• RSL took the lead in the 32nd minute. Fabian Espindola deflected a Matt Pickens clearance from a slow back pass, sending the ball back toward the goalmouth. When he realized the ball wouldn't cross the line on its own, Alvaro Saborio tapped it in.
• Real finally put the game away in the final minute of regulation time. Saborio knocked the ball away from an unsuspecting defender and hit it ahead to a streaking Will Johnson, who clinically finished into the lower-left corner from just inside the penalty area.
• Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja made five changes to the side that lost 2-1 to Toronto FC at BMO Field. Tyrone Marshall, Jaime Castrillon, Tony Cascio, Joseph Nane and Edu came into the team, in place of Hunter Freeman, Brian Mullan, Jeff Larentowicz, Conor Casey and Omar Cummings.
• COLORADO RAPIDS (4-3-3): Matt Pickens - Drew Moor, Marvell Wynne, Tyrone Marshall, Tyson Wahl - Jaime Castrillon (Omar Cummings 46), Martin Rivero (Kamani Hill 74), Tony Cascio - Wells Thompson, Joseph Nane, Edu (Brian Mullan 56).

TEAM NEWS
• The Rapids went down for their fifth consecutive league defeat, and their seventh loss in their last eight MLS games. The losing streak is the club’s longest in league games since the 2007 season, and one loss shy of the club record set in 1997.
• “I just had the feeling that we had seen this game before,” said Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja. “It was a solid performance from our boys but in the end it was just two big mistakes that ended up killing us. We showed a lot of character but the same mistakes have killed us in these last couple of games.”
• Tyrone Marshall returned to the back four for the first time since May 26, when he was sent off vs. Montréal after 61 minutes.
• Drew Moor moved from central defense to right back with the introduction of Marshall into the back four.
• “It’s trying to get some answers in the back, and in that part it’s sending messages every day,” said Pareja. “We send messages to ourselves and the coaches that [our performance] has to be better. We’re looking for answers, especially in the back.”

WATCH: Rapids down EPL side Swansea City, 2-1

• With Jeff Larentowicz suspended, Wells Thompson moved into the holding midfield role, and Joseph Nane made his first start of the season in a league game.
• “I thought Joseph Nane and Wells Thompson did a great job of coming in and cluttering up the midfield. I thought the changes were fine,” said Moor.
• “We’re not going to feel defeated after this game,” said Pareja. “A lot of guys that usually don’t have a lot of playing time played very well today. There are some things that are improving but at the end of the game, we need three points.”
• There was also an injury forced change up top, with Conor Casey suffering a hamstring strain and Omar Cummings still slowed by an ankle sprain. “I’m feeling better and it’s coming along. It’s still not there yet to 100 percent, but I guess we’ll have to work with it for the rest of the season,” Cummings said.
• On Tuesday, the Rapids defeated Swansea City of the English Premier League 2-1 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Early goals from Andre Akpan and Kamani Hill sent the Rapids on their way.
• Here’s the Rapids team: Steward Ceus (Ian Joyce 76’), Hunter Freeman (Davy Armstrong 57), Tyrone Marshall, Scott Palguta, Luis Zapata (Tyson Wahl 73), Jamie Smith, Jeff Larentowicz (Shane O’Neill 57), Joseph Nane (Wells Thompson 45), Jaime Castrillón (Tony Cascio 45), Andre Akpan (Omar Cummings 76), Kamani Hill

SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC
Seattle Sounders FC return to action after a two-week league layoff, their last match a 2-2 draw at the New York Red Bulls on July 15 at Red Bull Arena. Sounders FC are in a tie for third place in the Western Conference with 31 points from 20 games.

LAST MATCH

HIGHLIGHTS: NY 2, SEA 2

• Sounders FC jumped out in front in the 16th minute. Right back Adam Johansson hit a perfect cross from deep on the right flank and Alvaro Fernández raced in and hit a sliding first-time effort that new Red Bulls goalkeeper Bill Gaudette could not reach.
• But eight minutes later, the Red Bulls pulled level. Forward Kenny Cooper hit a bending shot from outside the penalty area that Seattle goalkeeper Bryan Meredith parried into the path of a wide-open Sebastien Le Toux, who finished with ease from close range.
• The Red Bulls took a 61st-minute lead when Joel Lindpere made a run that just beat the Seattle offside trap. He collected a pass from Brandon Barklage and cut inside Seattle defender Jeff Parke before unleashing a low, left-footed shot to the near post.
• Sounders FC pulled level six minutes later. Seattle midfielder Brad Evans hit a low cross from the right that an open Fredy Montero one-timed into the back of the net from the heart of the area for the equalizer.
• Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid made one change to the team that held out for a 2-1 win against the Colorado Rapids at CenturyLink Field. Brad Evans came into the midfield in place of Alex Caskey.
• SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC (4-4-1-1): Bryan Meredith - Adam Johansson, Jeff Parke, Patrick Ianni, Marc Burch - Brad Evans (Servando Carrasco 85), Osvaldo Alonso, Andy Rose (Leo Gonzalez 77), Alvaro Fernandez - Mauro Rosales (Fredy Montero 62) - Eddie Johnson.

TEAM NEWS
• While Sounders FC have now gone seven consecutive road games without a victory, they have taken a point from each of the last three, and drawn five of those seven games in the span.
• “We continue to be a decent road team although we’d like some of those ties to be wins," Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. "I think today was our sixth tie. We knew we don’t get to play these teams more than once so we wanted to win the season series against teams, so we won the season series against four of the East Coast teams. Now we go into the Western Conference primarily and it gives us the opportunity now to win the season series against some of the West Coast teams.”
• “I believe we rescued a point,” striker Fredy Montero said. “We rescued a point on a very tough venue to play in, with weather that was really bad to play in. The game seemed to slow down due to the heat and humidity on the pitch.”
• For Montero, it was his first goal since May 19, a span of eight games. He has come off the substitutes’ bench each of the last two games after starting in 15 of his first 16 appearances.
• “He’s always played well for us off the bench,” Schmid said. “His mentality is good and it’s great when you can play a player like that off the bench.  He played a lot of minutes for us on Wednesday, so we felt it was better to bring him off the bench because that could help us the most. It turned out to be a good situation for him.”

WATCH: Sounders preview home match with Rapids

• Said Montero: “I don’t question the decision; I’m not the type of player that asks those questions. I won’t second-guess the coach’s decision. If I’m on the bench I try to help my team when I step onto the pitch and today I was able to go in and score.”
• Mauro Rosales again started the game as an underneath striker, but the introduction of Montero paired him with Eddie Johnson, who saw his recent run of goals halted for the moment.
• "All forwards are streaky," said Schmid. "Eddie [Johnson] is on a good streak right now and Fredy is on a streak where he hasn’t scored as many goals. So, today we came differently with Rosales again underneath, but Fredy came in and I think that’s his fourth goal off the bench for us in seven games, so he has shown his ability to come off the bench and impact the game."
• Alvaro Fernandez netted a goal for the second consecutive match, now having started the last three contests.
• Adam Johansson recorded his first two assists in MLS play, both in the New York match. He has started back-to-back games for the first time since mid-May.
• “He saved the one ball off the line,” Schmid said, “and I’m sure he’s not used to this humidity being from Sweden, but he was the one who kept running at the end of the game too. He was one of the guys who didn’t play [in the Open Cup semifinal] so that was a good situation for him.”
• Three days after the league match, Sounders FC played host to Chelsea FC as they started their North American tour. Fredy Montero scored twice in a wild first half that saw six goals scored, but Chelsea still ran out 4-2 winners.
• Here’s the Sounders FC team: Bryan Meredith (Josh Ford 46), Zach Scott (Adam Johansson 71), Jeff Parke (Patrick Ianni 61), Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez (Marc Burch 71), Mauro Rosales (Andy Rose 61), Brad Evans (Sammy Ochoa 71), Osvaldo Alonso (Steve Zakuani 82), Alvaro Fernandez (Servando Carrasco 75), Fredy Montero (Michael Seamon 82), Eddie Johnson (Roger Levesque 65).