Sounders lean on All-Stars as unbeaten run continues

Sounders celebrate Eddie Johnson's goal

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Leave it to the Seattle Sounders' All-Stars to get the job done.

Just a few days removed from helping the MLS All-Stars defeat Chelsea, Eddie Johnson and Osvaldo Alonso each scored goals to give the Sounders a hard-fought 2-1 win over the Colorado Rapids on Saturday. The Sounders, who swept the season-series with the Rapids, are now undefeated in their past five league matches (2-0-3) and past seven overall (4-0-3).

Johnson’s goal was eerily reminiscent of the one he scored against the Rapids on July 7. In the second minute, Johnson was able to get free on a Mauro Rosales corner kick and had no problem heading it past goalkeeper Matt Pickens. It was the fifth time Rosales has assisted on a Johnson goal.

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“It was a superb header,” Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said. “[Johnson] and Fredy [Montero have] found some goals in a couple of other games, and he’ll find goals again. I was pleased with that.”

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After the Rapids came back to equalize just one minute later through Drew Moor, Johnson nearly gave back the lead to the Sounders in the 24th minute. He took a pass from Rosales, made several dribbles to get past Tyrone Marshall and fired a shot from the top right corner of the penalty box that seemed destined to find the back of the net. But Pickens was able to get just enough of the ball to send it off the far post.

Johnson made up for that near miss in the 65th minute. Standing all alone on the left side of the penalty area after receiving a pass from Alex Caskey, Johnson sent a left-footed cross to Alonso at the far post. Alonso wasted no time in volleying it past Pickens for his first league goal of the season.

The performance is just the latest addition to a resume that is growing more and more impressive with each week. Johnson now has five goals and an assist in his past six league matches and six goals in his past eight competitive matches. The 28-year-old’s nine league goals this season are the third most he’s scored in any of his 12 seasons as a professional.

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“We always create chances, this team,” Johnson said. “Me being new to the team, I’m still trying to find my way within the team. I’ve built a relationship with Rosales. I’m still learning how to play with this team and this team is still getting used to playing with me.”

The play of Johnson and Alonso would have been rendered a side note, though, if not for some impressive saves by goalkeeper Michael Gspurning, who made his first appearance in nearly three months. Gspurning was credited with three saves, the biggest of which was a diving effort to deny Conor Casey in the 76th minute.

“He’s a veteran goalkeeper,” Schmid said. “He’s a guy who has a calming influence on the backs for us, he’s got good experience. He came up with a good save in the second half, going to his left. He is able to deal with crosses with his size, and punch things clear. Having him back in there for us gives everyone a little more confidence because they know the quality he has. We’ve certainly missed him, not to take anything away from the goalkeepers that played while he was gone.”

Jeremiah Oshan covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com and SB Nation.