By CALEB SONNELAND
The bad blood between the two teams was evident for everyone to see as the Seattle Sounders and Colorado Rapids played out a wild 4-3 Sounders victory rife with disciplinary and goal-mouth action from start to finish.
With the score knotted at 2-2 going into the home stretch of the game, it took some Fredy Montero magic to unlock the Rapids' defense to give the hosts a win and all three points at CenturyLink Field.
"Not to say that it was a perfect week, but I definitely feel very good," said Montero who had three goals and an assist in MLS play this week. "Especially because the team accomplished our objectives."
"We have to maintain and keep our form, reinforce what we are doing and motivate the entire team. I'm very proud of what the team has done today and that we got the three points."
With goals initially coming from Wells Thompson and Jeff Larentowicz to give the visitors the lead, Seattle twice clawed its way back through Montero who registered a goal and an assist for Mauro Rosales in the span of one minute.
Coming off a big week in Portland, it was Montero who rescued Seattle once more when he popped up at the back post to nod home a cross in the 83rd minute to put his side in front for the first time all match. Just a minute or so later, the Colombian played Rosales in behind the back line for the latter to smash home past Matt Pickens.
After an early goal from Wells Thompson, it was DP Alvaro Fernandez who got his name on the score-sheet to bring the hosts level in the 7th minute after being laid in behind the back line by Osvaldo Alonso. Fernandez shook off Kosuke Kimura before finishing cooly at the far post to even things up for his fifth of 2011. Roger Levesque provided the Sounders second goal just after the stroke of half time after he nudged home a Rosales cross to make it 2-2.
"Obviously, I think the character we showed from being down twice was superb," said Sigi Schmid. "My hat's off to the team in that regard. I didn't like the fact that we gave up three goals, but I'm a coach and I'm paid to worry."
The Rapids had gotten off the mark as Wells Thompson punished a poor Jeff Parke clearance in the 1st minute to smash a good shot past Kasey Keller from 12 yards out. The goal was Thompson's first of the season and set the stage for a wild match in the Northwest.
Jeff Larentowicz then Colorado's score in the 42nd minute after he whacked a left-footed shot off the far post and in past a helpless Kasey Keller. Despite being contained to primarily counter-attacks in the first half, Colorado capitalized well on its chances and made the hosts pay for not converting their own.
Caleb Folan brought the game within a goal in the 90th minute when he tidied up a close-range goal to make the score 4-3 and give Colorado a glimmer of hope. But it wasn't to be as the time expired and an equalizer could not be found.
One of the major talking points preceding the match was the exclusion of midfielder Brian Mullan from the traveling Rapids team. Coach Gary Smith cited "back issues" and what he was likely to encounter from the Seattle crowd as reasons for his omission.
Unfortunately for the Rapids, the team may have to adjust to life without Conor Casey, as the striker was forced to leave the game in the first half with a left calf/ankle injury.
What did you think of the game? Is Montero up for Man of the Match again? How do you feel about Mullan not traveling?