SEATTLE -- If last week’s 4-2 road victory over the Portland Timbers was a statement for the Seattle Sounders, then Saturday afternoon’s 1-0 defeat of the Colorado Rapids can be considered reinforcement.
“We felt we made a statement last week,” Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid told reporters after Saturday’s game. “But a statement doesn’t mean anything unless you back it up. Today was back-up time.”
Despite only winning Saturday’s game by one goal, the contest featured a few encouraging signs for the Sounders as they head into the home stretch of the season with an MLS-leading 48 points.
For one, star forward Clint Dempsey had a standout performance, providing an array of pinpoint passes for his teammates and notching a beautiful go-ahead goal on a volley in the 53rd minute off a corner kick from Marco Pappa.
“Great ball in from Pappa,” Dempsey said of the go-ahead score. “Just trying make sure I had good connection on it and try to keep it low and it was able to go in.”
Dempsey said after Seattle’s 1-1 draw against the San Jose Earthquakes on August 20 that he was feeling tired from a heavy workload dating back to last December.
He looked anything but on Saturday.
Seattle also got strong all-around performance from their back line, in particular from center backs Chad Marshall and Zach Scott, who managed to thwart Colorado's attempts to race behind the Sounders defense with balls over the top.
“They tried to clip a few balls over the top of our defense, but Marshall and Zach did a really good job with that,” Schmid said of his defenders. “I thought we did a really good job of keeping the game in front of us and not allowing them to use their speed to get behind our back four.”
Noted Marshall: “I think Zach and I prefer these games. We like banging and going up for headers. Anytime we get stuff like that, we relish the opportunity.”
Schmid also said he was encouraged by his team’s ability to pull out back-to-back victories in games that had differing styles. After the explosive six-goal affair last week in Portland, Seattle found a way to grind out the one-goal victory over the Rapids.
“If you want to go far in the playoffs, you’ve got to be able to win games like this,” Schmid said. “You’ve got to be able to play to zero in the back, you’ve got to be able to minimize the opponent's chances and sometimes you’ve just to make good use of your set pieces and things like that. Those are deciding factors.”
Seattle now take a two-game win streak into their next match, a midweek road clash with Chivas USA on Sept. 3.