Sunday, April 15, 2012
Sounders 1-0 Rapids
Under normal circumstances, Saturday's match would be pretty forgettable. Other than an excellent header by Zach Scott in the final third of the match, the Sounders faithful were treated (or...not...) to a game lacking a lot of excitement or close plays. Scott had another chance on goal in the first half that missed just left, Fredy Montero came close with a few free kicks, and Eddie Johnson almost found his first assist in a near-perfect service to Montero, denied only thanks to a great read from Colorado keeper Matt Pickens. Outside of those plays, and a couple of cards, it was about as lackluster a win as the Sounders will take all season.
But this matchup, which sent the Sounders into a tie for third place in the west with 10 points, had added significance, especially for the near 40,000 standing at attention on the sunny Saturday afternoon. It was the return of public enemy number 1, Brian Mullen, for the first time since his horrific tackle on Steve Zakuani about a year ago. And as was to be expected after 350+ days of hate and vitriol were unleashed on the internet in the aftermath, and with Zakuani himself in attendance, the crowd let Mullen know how they felt about him with their voices. Every time Mullen touched the ball (which seemed to become less frequent as the game went on, perhaps out of pity from his teammates), something between a smattering and a cacophony of boos rained down upon the pitch (though not quite to the effect of the weather in Sunday's Chicago-Houston matchup).
On top of that, the game had even more meaning for myself, inviting an old co-worker and friend to his very first Sounders match. In town for a week from him home in St. Louis, we had a few drinks before the March to the Match, before I treated him to a Sounders gameday. He came away impressed, and I fully expect the Sounders population in Missouri to grow by one. Few things bring me more joy these days than creating new fans of Sounders and the "Beautiful Game".
Back to the game itself... The finishing is still a concern, but the coming week off should do wonders for this battered team. When Seattle next takes the pitch at Toyota Park in Illinois, they should have their best 11 on the pitch, with Rosales, Johannson, Fernandez, and Hurtado all returning to duty, and Johnson ready to play the full 90. Assuming Rosales doesn't get hacked down for the fourth straight game, it will be our first look at the true potential of our team.
Elsewhere in Cascadia:
Portland 1-3 LA