The Sounders didn’t do anything memorable Saturday, especially given the quality of competition. But they accomplished what they needed to in a 1-0 victory over the lowly, injury-depleted Colorado Rapids in front of 38,394 at CenturyLink Field on Clint Dempsey’s 11th goal of the season in the 52nd minute.
The Sounders (15-7-3) handed the Rapids their sixth consecutive defeat, remained unbeaten against Colorado at the Clink, and increased their season total to 48 points, five clear of the LA Galaxy in the Western Conference. The Sounders also top the race for the Supporters’ Shield (top-scoring team in MLS) for the 17th time in 24 weeks.
With former Sounder Marc Burch squeezing him, Dempsey volleyed a corner kick from Marco Pappa. His shot found the top-right corner of the net just seconds after Colorado goalkeeper Joe Nasco, making his MLS debut for the Rapids, denied Brad Evans from point-blank range. The Sounders made the lead stand up as Colorado could not generate an equalizer against Seattle’s backline of DeAndre Yedlin, Chad Marshall, Zach Scott and Leo Gonzalez.
“I just wanted to help the team get three points,” said Dempsey, whose 11th goal broke a tie with Obafemi Martins for the team lead. “We’ve got two in a row (defeated Portland 4-2 in last outing) and now, toward the end of the season, you want to get on a good run of form. If we just stay consistent, we’ll be fine.”
The Sounders didn’t figure to have much of a problem with Colorado, given its long losing streak and the fact the Rapids have won only twice away from home — and never in any season at CenturyLink. But the Rapids packed the box throughout the first half, denying Seattle numerous scoring chances.The Sounders had just one shot on target in the first 45 minutes, a free kick by Dempsey gobbled up by Nasco.
The Sounders had more chances in the second half — Martins crushed a shot off the bar in the 58th minute — and nearly scored twice in stoppage time when Martins and Dempsey each had good looks, but couldn’t convert against a Colorado team (8-12-6) that has yet to win in eight appearances at the Clink and lost to Seattle 4-1 April 26.
Although the Sounders converted only one of their six shots on target, they held Colorado to just two shots on goal. None came close to getting past goalie Stefan Frei.
The Sounders had a huge edge in time of possession, 59.1 percent to 40.9.
The Sounders play at Chivas USA at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and return to CenturyLink Field Sept. 12 to face Real Salt Lake.