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Seattle v Colorado (4-3) – Open and Attacking Match Yields 7 Goals and a Sounders Win

Seattle’s Strategy      Hurtado went off injured v Portland and Ianni was brought on to replace him at center back. Other than that, the starting XI seems to be the preferred lineup for Sigi Schmid. Alonso and Friberg paired i...


Seattle’s Strategy
     Hurtado went off injured v Portland and Ianni was brought on to replace him at center back. Other than that, the starting XI seems to be the preferred lineup for Sigi Schmid. Alonso and Friberg paired in the center of midfield with Fernandez and Rosales out wide. Roger Levesque got the start as the central striker and Freddie Montero played his typical free role behind Levesque.
Colorado’s Strategy
     The Rapids went their usual 4-4-2 lineup. Coach Gary Smith chose to leave Brian Mullan at home in Colorado to not distract the fans and team with his presence after he controversially injured Steve Zakuani when the two sides last met. Jamie Smith pulled his hamstring in warmups which forced the Rapids to start Nyassi on the right wing. Larentowicz and Mastroeni paired in the middle and Casey and Cummings played up top. While in the game, Casey played more as a second forward, dropping deeper to hold up the ball to try and link up with Omar Cummings who was looking for space in the channels behind the Sounders back four.
The Goals
     Colorado were gifted a lead in the opening minute of the match. Kimura played a cross in that should not have troubled the Sounder’s defense. However, Jeff Parke made a mess of the clearance and the ball dropped to Thompson at the top of the 18. He silenced the crowd with a shot that went into the corner.
     Though, the Sounders were quick to respond. After nearly scoring in the previous minute, the Sounders leveled the match in the 7th minute. Ozzy Alonso played a ball out wide left to Fernandez. He used his strength to cut inside of Kimura and finished with his right foot to the far post.
     With Casey off injured, the Rapids took the lead back at the end of the first half. Cummings drifted to the right and launched a cross to Thompson. He was sizing up Riley one v one, but Friberg came over to double. Larentowicz saw the double and ran to the edge of the 18 where he was open to receive the pass and smash a low strike off the post and in.
     Three minutes after halftime, Seattle was able to level the match. Alonso sprayed a long ball to Rosales down the right wing. Rosales played in a low near post cross to a charging Levesque who flicked the ball with his right foot beautifully into the far corner.
     Seattle kept up the attacking pressure but was only able to take the lead in the 82nd minute. Rosales and Alonso engineered a move down the right wing. However, the ball was cut off by Colorado but a poor touch by Larentowicz gave possession to Brad Evans a mere eight yards from goal. His cross from the right of goal to the back post was deflected by Pickens, but was still able to make it through to Montero who put it away with a diving header.
     A mere two minutes later, the Sounders added a much needed insurance goal. Montero dropped deep and Rosales made a run behind the defense. He found himself through on goal and slotted it past Pickens for the home teams fourth.
     Caleb Folan added the seven goal in the match in the 90th minute from a corner. Keller saved expertly after a great header by Marshall. Then, the ball dropped nicely to Folan who easily finished at the far post.
Tactical Observations
     Seattle was able to draw defenders to Montero when he dropped deep to collect the ball. This allowed for runs in behind from Rosales and Fernandez and a few times Friberg. FSC commentator Kyle Martino astutely mentioned that Seattle’s quick movement of the ball caused Colorado’s back four confusion. Additionally, the early distribution of Alonso and Friberg out wide gave Kimura and Moor little time to cover.
    For Colorado, the strike duo of Casey and Cummings linked up well until Casey picked up a non-contact leg injury that appeared serious. The Rapids will be blaming the shoddy temporary grass if the injury turns out to be significant. Casey dropped deep to hold up the ball while Cummings was working behind the back four in the channels. When Folan came in, he took up a target forward role and Cummings was left to drift wide. This lineup looked more out of sync.
     In central midfield, Larentowicz and Mastroeni were overrun by Alonso and Friberg. The Sounders denied the pair the ball and forced Colorado to attack out wide. On the bright side, Nyassi was able to find space cutting in from his right wing position. With Alonso and Friberg focusing on Mastroeni and Larentowicz, there was space to exploit in front of Seattle’s back four.
Conclusions
     Colorado’s back four was a disaster. They were not organized and out of position. If it were not for Wynne’s recovery speed, Seattle could have had 6 or 7. The Rapids high defensive line may have worked if they had played on the usual field turf of Century Link Field. With the match on the temporary grass, Seattle was able to play through balls without worrying that the ball would roll all the way to the keeper.
     For Seattle, Sigi seems to have found the perfect strike partnership. Levesque complements Montero well. Whilst Montero is given the free role to drop deep and be creative, Levesque works hard to press and occupies defenders to give the South American trio, Rosales, Fernandez and Montero, space.
     Credit Seattle for consistently playing free flowing attacking football. However, they seem to be prone to a miscue in the back. This error prone style particularly frustrated Keller when he was seen scolding his defense after they conceded a third goal. If the Sounders want to compete in the post season they must sure up the back line.
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