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Evans blast, Johnson insurance see Seattle past Colorado, into the Western Conference semifinals

Oct 31, 2013, 12:42 AM EDT

The seven-match winless streak’s no more, and while the game may have had only one goal between the sides for most of the match, the Sounders finally looked like a team that could do damage commensurate with their talent. Discarding the form that saw the one-time Supporters’ Shield contenders plummet into the West’s first round game, Seattle posted a convincing 2-0 win at CenturyLink Field, eliminating the Colorado Rapids from the 2013 Major League Soccer playoffs.

The game’s opening goal — a 17-yard, 28th minute Brad Evans blast from the right of the penalty area — prove the game-winner for Seattle, who came into the match winless in seven games. That streak included a 5-1 loss on October 5 in Colorado, the Rapids having kicked off the Sounders’ slide from first in the West to the conference’s fourth seed. On Wednesday, Colorado failed to summon any of their form from Commerce, rarely challenging Seattle.

In the 85th minute, however, Seattle goalkeeper Michael Gspurning gave Colorado a potential opening, inexplicably leaving his area to catch a long ball sent to the edge of his penalty area. Silviu Petrescu’s red card was obligatory, leaving the Sounders to play out the match’s final minutes with 10 men. Marcus Hahnemann, unthreatened on the ensuing restart, saw out the remainder of Seattle’s clean sheet.

Three minutes into stoppage time, with the Rapids pushing for an equalizer, Eddie Johnson broke in on Clint Irwin and finished inside the Colorado keeper’s left post from eight yards out, eliminating any doubt Gspurning’s mistake would come back to haunt Seattle.

[MORE: How it happened: More details on Seattle’s big win over Colorado]

[MORE: PST Man of the Match: Eddie Johnson edges Brad Evans]

The win puts Seattle back in the West’s semifinals, where they’ll be matched up against the conference’s top finishers: the Portland Timbers. The two-legged Cascadia derby starts on Saturday at CenturyLink – the rivals’ first ever meeting in the postseason.

Until then, the Sounders can enjoy the levity of shedding crisis’s weight from their shoulders. On Wednesday, Seattle not only moved beyond their seven-game slide. They may have provided a glimpse of a team that will challenge deeper into this tournament.

Goals

Seattle: 28′ Evans, 93′ Johnson

Lineups

SEATTLE: Michael Gspurning; DeAndre Yedlin (45′ Marc Burch), Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Djimi Traoré, Leo González; Brad Evans, Osvaldo Alonso, Adam Moffat; Clint Dempsey; Lamar Neagle (88′ Marcus Hanhemann), Eddie Johnson

Subs: Zach Scott, Shalrie Joseph, Andy Rose, Mauro Rosales, David Estrada

COLORADO: Clint Irwin; Shane O’Neill, Drew Moor, German Mera, Chris Klute; Nathan Sturgis (85′ Marvell Wynne), Hendry Thomas; Atiba Harris, Martín Rivero (61′ Vicente Sanchez), Deshorn Brown (73′ Edson Buddle); Gabriel Torres

Subs: Matt Pickens, Anthony Wallace, Nick Labrocca, Dillon Serna

  1. mkbryant3 - Oct 31, 2013 at 12:51 AM

    Gspurning. Wow. Man, that guy has plummeted. Can’t see him starting for the rest of the year, can you?

    • Richard Farley - Oct 31, 2013 at 12:53 AM

      No. I can’t. If Marcus does well on Saturday, I don’t think Sigi will want to make another switch this postseason.

      Even before that red card, those two inexplicable drops mid-half were enough to question Gspurning. His confidence seems destroyed.

    • talgrath - Oct 31, 2013 at 12:58 AM

      I’m vastly confused as to what the hell has happened to Gspurning. The man looked like a god last season, but at the end of this season he is making stupid mistakes.

  2. hildezero - Oct 31, 2013 at 1:00 AM

    Seattle played like a Shield winning club.

  3. mkbryant3 - Oct 31, 2013 at 1:01 AM

    This Colorado team is solid and will do some damage next year. Alonso, the dude is a flat out warrior. I would want him on my team any day I also thought Neagle had a strong game, despite a few misses. Looks like Deuce is rounding out his form. But that turf. Argh. The game would have been so much better on grass.

    • Richard Farley - Oct 31, 2013 at 1:14 AM

      I’ll write about this in a bit, but I though Neagle did a good job pressuring the line when Eddie going wide stretched the defense. And Clint definitely had his best game as a Sounder (not really close, is it?).

      And Ossie … yeah. Just they guy Sounders fans have come to know.

      In general, with the exception of Gspurning, I thought every Seattle player had an above average game … maybe Neagle and Moffat being the two that were possibly average. But even then, they played their parts.

      Great response to the occasion.

  4. socamr - Oct 31, 2013 at 1:48 AM

    Not sure why there’s so little discussion of Petrescu, who made a hash of the match. Irwin’s foul is a red card in any other league, and I’m still curious as to why Gspurning was ejected. Sure, it’s a brain lock play by him, but unless it’s a DOGSO it shouldn’t be a red card. Or was he ejected for the shove on Buddle (which would be soft, but at least comprehensible)?

    • Richard Farley - Oct 31, 2013 at 1:51 AM

      Irwin’s foul wasn’t a red card. It didn’t fit the criteria for denial. Dempsey wasn’t moving toward goal; he was still 19 yards out; Drew Moor was in between the play and goal. I don’t think that’s a red card in most cases, and in the ones were it is, the referee probably acts reflexively, not thoughtfully.

      Gspurning’s foul was pretty close to an automatic red. Keepers can not intentionally handle the ball outside their penalty area. Petrescu had some discretion there, but very little. The laws of the game don’t explicitly say that’s a straight red, but the practical application is different.

      Overall, I’ve seen games where Petrescu’s been worse. I was shockingly surprised to see him break out some early cards to control the game/Hendry Thomas. I thought tonight’s referee was fine.

      • socamr - Oct 31, 2013 at 1:06 PM

        I’m not sure you understand the laws of the game. For Gspurning to see red it has to be a DOGSO; intentional handling of the ball, GK or otherwise, is not an automatic red.

        And if you think Moor was covering (I have a bridge in Brooklyn for you – no way he gets between Dempsey and the net in time), I don’t see how you can say that Traore wasn’t covering – if Gspurning lets the ball go, he gets there first.

        And it was certainly “fine” to let two consecutive handballs go in the box on the play following the Irwin takedown.

      • Richard Farley - Oct 31, 2013 at 1:10 PM

        I understand the laws of the game, and I see your point. But the reason Gspurning or his teammates didn’t go crazy about that call? Because they know that’s going to be a red card based on the practical application of the rules in today’s game, not a letter-of-the-law interpretation that overlooks that reality.

      • socamr - Oct 31, 2013 at 3:36 PM

        So you’re saying that referees should interpret the laws of the game according to their own “practical application” rather than actually follow the laws, and the interpretations of those laws, set out by FIFA? If you say that, I don’t ever want to see this site complain about refereeing again.

        As a fan of the game, not just the Sounders, I think the single biggest problem with MLS refereeing is that MLS referees do this all the time: ignore the rules of the game in favor of “practical applications.” In MLS, hard tackles are the norm, so the practical application of “serious foul play” is that it’s hardly ever called. Refereeing in other leagues is far from perfect, but the flow of the game is generally much better because the players know that the rules of the game will be enforced.

      • Richard Farley - Oct 31, 2013 at 3:50 PM

        I’m not saying what should and should not be. I’m just saying what is. Just as in the mid-90s players were getting straight red cards any time they went to ground from behind, the game has adopted standards that augment the strict laws of the game. And at some point, our understanding of the game needs to recognize those tweaks.

  5. mmcgregor69 - Oct 31, 2013 at 2:35 AM

    I don’t know if there are any Rapids fans reading this stuff. But as a Rapids fan, I am outraged and understandably upset with NBCSports about this game. I cannot believe that NBC used the local Seattle broadcast for this game. A “National” Broadcasting Company like NBC really should use their own cameras and people to commentate a MLS Playoff game. I hated seeing my beloved Rapids lose, but what was worse was hearing the opponents homers while I had to watch my team lose on an unbiased “National” network.

  6. sparkydelong - Oct 31, 2013 at 10:20 AM

    Any idea why this game was blacked out on DirecTV in Colorado Springs? Very disappointed.

    • bear06 - Nov 1, 2013 at 4:07 AM

      Maybe the game was available in one of your local channels.

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