Seattle Sounders 2, Colorado Rapids 1 | 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs Match Recap
The Colorado Rapids struck first, but the Seattle Sounders rallied to gain a narrow 2-1 advantage in the first leg of the Western Conference Championship in the Audi 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs.
Sounders midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro drew and converted a decisive penalty kick just after the hour mark, when he was caught from behind by Colorado’s Mark Burch in the penalty area and sent Zac MacMath the wrong way on his effort from 12 yards.
Lodeiro’s goal broke a 40-plus minute deadlock after the teams had traded goals early in the first half. Colorado opened the scoring in the 13th minute, as Jermaine Jones found Kevin Doyle with the help of a dummy from Shkelzen Gashi. The Irishman then took the space and fired a shot that took a looping deflection past Stefan Frei and into the net.
However, it would only take six minutes for the home side to equalize. Cristian Roldan carried the ball through the middle of the field on a quick break for Seattle and fired his low shot off the post, only for an onside Jordan Morris – in the lineup after recovering from a hamstring injury – to fire home the rebound from close range.
Colorado would have to rely on MacMath to keep them in the game twice in 31st minute, first when he laid out to stop a bullet header from Lodeiro and again on the resulting corner kick when he got in the way of Nelson Valdez's close-range volley.
Although the Rapids will go into the second leg of the series on Colorado down on aggregate, their away goal will give them a fighting chance to turn things around at home, where they could advance with a 1-0 win in five days’ time.
- 13’ – COL – Kevin Doyle (Jermaine Jones)
- 19’ – SEA – Jordan Morris
- 61’ – SEA – Nicolas Lodeiro
- Full box score
- Watch highlights
- RAPID RECOVERY: There was no doubt that US international Tim Howard would miss this one for Colorado, but injury questions persisted around key players on each side – Jordan Morris for Seattle and Shkelzen Gashi for Colorado – who picked up knocks in the Conference Semifinal second legs. Both would start for their respective teams and play key roles in determining the result. Morris, of course, would net Seattle’s equalizer, and though Gashi had a fairly quiet night overall, his dummy was crucial in giving Kevin Doyle the time and space to find the vital away goal for Colorado.
- THE YIN AND YANG OF JERMAINE: Jermaine Jones has been a busy man since returning to action at the end of October, and it was no surprise to see him in the middle of everything, both bad and good, for the Rapids on Tuesday. There were inch-perfect through balls – including a great one-touch pass to set up Doyle’s goal – lung-busting runs, and some truly head-scratching moments, all of which added up to an entertaining 90 minutes of action from Colorado’s dreadlocked dynamo:
“Let us mix… a back heel through five defenders that works perfectly with a FLYING LEG KICK LONG BALL THAT ENTERS SHALLOW EARTH ORBIT."— Will Parchman (@WillParchman) November 23, 2016
- NICO KNOWS: Nicolas Lodeiro collected his Newcomer of the Year award not a week ago, but after his game-winning penalty kick he can add another accolade to his sterling résumé: Seattle’s all-time leading goalscorer in the playoffs, with four goals in four games. It's partly a reminder of Seattle's scoring struggles in postseasons past, but it's also a testament to the fact that Lodeiro has dragged this team out of the Western Conference basement and closer than they've ever gotten to an MLS Cup. And goal aside, he was pretty darn excellent on Tuesday night:
- Colorado vs. Seattle, November 27 (4 pm ET; ESPN in the US, TSN2 in Canada)