Clint Dempsey scored twice as the Seattle Sounders won their third game in a row, and inflicted a first away defeat on the Colorado Rapids.
The 31-year-old scored his seventh and eighth goals of the season to make him the outright top-scorer in Major League Soccer, and he also had a hand in Lamar Neagle’s opener.
Obafemi Martins added a fourth for the Sounders after Dillon Serna had pulled it back to 3-1 in a thoroughly entertaining contest.
Seattle had lost their last two home games, but came into this clash on the back of two consecutive away wins. 2010 champions Colorado meanwhile were unbeaten on the road, and were looking to inflict revenge on the side that knocked them out of last year’s play-offs at CenturyLink Field.
After an open start, the Sounders started to gain an upper hand, with their first opportunity falling the way of Martins after Clint Irwin had spilled Dempsey’s dipping long-range drive. The Nigerian reacted quickest to the rebound, but could only fire straight at the Rapids goalkeeper.
The home side continued to dominate possession, and in the 27th minute they had another chance to take the lead. Some good work from DeAndre Yedlin down the right saw the ball break for Marco Pappa. His cross found its way through to Neagle at the far post, but the 26-year-old was wasteful as he smashed an effort into the side-netting.
But in first half stoppage time, Seattle were ahead.
Martins’ sublime pass split the defence and set Dempsey on his way. The USA captain rounded Irwin, and though Drew Moor was able to block his tame effort, Neagle was following in to convert from two yards.
The goal was no more than the Sounders deserved, and was remarkably the first time that the Rapids had scored or conceded before half-time this season. Within two minutes of the restart, the Rave Green had doubled their lead.
Pappa played the ball into Dempsey’s feet, and his sumptuous flick returned the ball to his advancing teammate. The Guatemala international’s shot was weak, but at full stretch Irwin couldn’t hold the ball, and the league’s leading goal-scorer dinked the rebound into the net.
Three minutes later, the Texan should have had another, but fired straight at the goalkeeper having been slipped in by Martins. And the Nigerian continued the Seattle onslaught as he charged away from Thomas Piermayr, but Irwin stood up well to block.
From the resulting corner though, Dempsey had his second. Pappa’s corner was nodded back into the danger-zone by Chad Marshall, and the former Fulham man looped his header just below the crossbar.
The Rapids were struggling to contain their hosts, but after Osvaldo Alonso had gone close, the visitors responded. Youngster Serna beat the offside trap and coolly finished past Stefan Frei for his first career goal.
In the 66th minute, Colorado almost scored again. Substitute Marlon Hairston found space in the Sounders’ half, and his fierce long distance drive clipped the top of the crossbar. Seattle made a substitution of their own, and Brad Evans was immediately involved. The USA international’s pass gave Martins the chance to get on the score-sheet, but the 29-year-old stumbled before again finding Irwin in his way.
He soon got his goal though, skipping past Moor in the 75th minute, before finishing brilliantly with his right foot. This was the Nigeria forward’s third goal of the season, and his 11th in all in the MLS.
Deshorn Brown might have got the Rapids back into the game, but he shot straight into the arms of Frei when Hairston’s pass had sent him clean through on goal.
The score remained 4-1 though, making this the Sounders’ biggest win of the season.
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