Marco Pappa’s nearly unmarked shot in the 16th minute was the difference Wednesday night at the Clink as the Sounders climbed atop the Western Conference table with a 1-0 win over Colorado. Winning for the fifth time in seven games, the Sounders (7-3-2) passed Dallas with a 23-21 points lead.
Both clubs were playing their second game in five days, but the Sounders, in front of 39,757, were the aggressors, clearly trying to avoid the slows that contributed to a 0-0 draw Saturday against Sporting Kansas City. It was the third shutout in a row for Seattle, which had 69 percent of the possessions.
In the 16th minute, Christian Roldan, the 19-year-old who started in midfield, sent in a cross that caromed off a defender out toward Pappa, who had time to dribble before lining up a shot that cleared the left hand of GK Clint Irwin and nestled into the corner behind the far post.
“I’m happy with the three points; it is never easy playing mid-week games,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “There are a lot of young kids who stepped in, (Andy) Rose and Roldan, guys who haven’t been playing a lot, and (Zach) Scott and (Leo) Gonzalez as well — all of those guys helped us. We were able to rest some guys as a result. As we prepare for the game on Sunday, I felt a lot of those guys stepped up and did really well.”
The Rapids (2-3-7), last in the West, picked up the attack in the second half but GK Stefan Frei, who had four saves, and the defense stayed in control as Scott and Gonzalez made spot starts in the seventh shutout of the season.
The Sounders are 13-2-2 all time against the Rapids. They swept three last season and took the first meeting in April this year, 3-1, in Colorado. The clubs meet again July 18 in Seattle.
Obafemi Martins returned after missing two games with a leg bruise. Gonzalo Pineda sat out with a sore ankle . . . Earlier in the day at Starfire Stadium in Tukwila, Sounders 2 beat Timbers 2 in U.S. Open Cup play 2-1 in extra time. The winner in the 104th minute came from Pablo Rossi. S2 moves to the fourth round, where they will meet Real Salt Lake of MLS June 17 in Sandy, UT. Andy Craven scored the first Seattle goal in the 66th minute . . . MLS Disciplinary Committee suspended Sounders assistant equipment manager Brett Johnson one game and fined him an undisclosed amount for violating policy on entering the field/leaving the bench area in the 64th minute of Seattle’s match against Sporting Kansas City Sunday.
The Sounders have their third home game in nine days at 2 p.m. Sunday against the New York Red Bulls (ESPN2).