Martin’s goal lifts Sounders to 1-0 win over Rapids

  • McClatchy news services
  • Saturday, April 20, 2013 8:27pm
  • SportsSports

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — The Seattle Sounders finally enjoyed a day of somersaults and backflips.

In the sixth game of their Major League Soccer season, the Sounders moved into the winner’s circle Saturday with a 1-0 victory against the Colorado Rapids at Commerce City, Colo.

“We’re just happy to get the win,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “Obviously it’s been bugging us for a while. To get a win on the road is always important. I think defensively we’ve played pretty consistently all season. Today, we gave up maybe a little bit more than we’ve given up in other games as far as chances, but we finished real well. … We’ve just got to build on this.”

The lone goal came from new designated player Obafemi Martins in the 27th minute.

Martins celebrated his first goal as a Sounder with his trademark somersault and backflip.

“Happy to see it,” Schmid said. “Every time I see the backflip I know we’ve scored.”

The full celebration had to wait as the Sounders weaved their way through several close calls over the final 62 minutes before becoming the last MLS team to remove the zero from its win column.

“I hope to score many goals, and I hope for the Sounders to win many games,” Martins told KONG-TV after the match.

While Martins delivered the finishing touch, more than half of the Sounders on the pitch had a role in the score.

The play began with Brad Evans taking possession near midfield and sending a short pass to Osvaldo Alonso, who returned it to Evans. He then sent a pass to DeAndre Yedlin on the right side. Yedlin made a run to the top of the penalty area, where he side-footed the ball on to Lamar Neagle. Neagle launched a cross to Steve Zakuani in the box. Zakuani laid the ball back to Shalrie Joseph, who fired a screamer on goal.

Colorado goalkeeper Clinton Irwin batted it away — but directly to Martins, who bought some space with a juke on his defender before calmly steering the ball inside the far post from about 8 yards.

Seattle almost added to its lead a couple of minutes later when Neagle banged a shot into the crossbar.

However, as the game moved closer to its conclusion the more dangerous chances started coming from the Rapids. Dillon Powers, Kamani Hill and Danny Mwanga had especially good chances. But Seattle goalkeeper Michael Gspurning saved the three shots Colorado put on goal, and the Sounders escaped with their second consecutive shutout.

“In the back of everybody’s mind is ‘We really want to get this,’ and ‘Let’s not blow it’ sort of thing,” Evans said. “We played a little too cautious, not as free-flowing as in the first half. Maybe a little bit too defensive for a little too long. We didn’t want to make that one mistake.”

The result marked Seattle’s seventh straight win over Colorado and pushed the Sounders to an 8-1-1 all-time advantage in the series. It also moves the Sounders to 1-3-2 on the season. That is still last in the Western Conference, but the gap closed to three points behind Colorado (2-4-2) with two games in hand.

This was the first game back for Martins (knee) and Evans (calf). However, forward Eddie Johnson (hamstring) and defender Patrick Ianni (foot) were held out again.

A crowd of 12,063 was announced at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

Seattle returns to league play May 4 at Philadelphia.

“Now everybody can kind of take a deep breath and we can get back into it,” Neagle said. “It’s good to see us get a shutout and good to see us have a great celebration, too.”

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