SEATTLE – The playoffs don’t seem as far away anymore.
After Seattle gritted out a tough 2-1 win against Colorado, the resurgent Sounders sit on 22 points from 18 matches, a much more manageable total than the club faced just a few weeks ago.
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The consensus among the players and staff was that it wasn’t the prettiest match in Sounders history, but it was a win – Seattle’s first this season against a Western Conference opponent.
Within the locker room, there is a sense that the breaks are starting to favor the team.
“I think the team showed a lot of grit and determination,” said Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid. “In the beginning of the year we had some games when we played some good soccer and didn't come out with anything. But now we get points and sometimes it means rolling up your sleeves, and the team certainly did that.”
The Colorado match marked the first of four crucial games against Western Conference opponents. In the next three weeks, the suddenly-surging Sounders will have the opportunity to do real damage in the West.
Steve Zakuani, who scored twice for Seattle, thought visiting Colorado controlled the match.
“It’s a case we have been in every game we have played this year and we've been losing them, and now what we have been doing is turning those into wins,” Zakuani said. “At D.C., it was 0-0 for 85 minutes, we get the win. Tonight, we didn't play great, but we get the win. We just have to keep it going.”
After a long week that revolved primarily around roster speculation, Seattle showed that their current team has the potential to make a playoff run. The Sounders have now captured seven of a possible nine points in its last three matches and are one point away from a potential playoff spot.
The players believe the recent positive results reflect a shift in mindset.
“There is a good attitude about this team right now,” said Sanna Nyassi, who started the match in right midfield and assisted on the game-winning goal. “The discipline with the team is getting better and better and it’s good to win games because everyone is smiling and the music is on.”
Kasey Keller, who made three saves for Seattle, was pleased with the effort. Keller can be quick to call out teammates for a lack of effort, but credited his teammates for their effort tonight. In a match that saw Conor Casey leave the field with a sizable gash to his forehead, the goalkeeper thought the Sounders did the hard work necessary to escape with the victory.
“I’m very proud of the way the attitude has been,” Keller said. “In the last five minutes, Fredy Montero is clearing balls of the top of the [penalty] box. That shows that we’re becoming a team that’s willing to do what’s needed to win.”
“It wasn’t a very pretty game, but we’ve played some pretty games and lost,” said General Manager Adrian Hanauer. “We’ll take the three points any way we can get them.
“I think some guys are starting to believe. There were some signs of encouragement as far as play goes but mostly it was a win based on hard work and determination.”