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Record fast start for Seattle Sounders freezes Colorado Rapids

Mar 9, 2019; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Sounders FC midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro (left) celebrates after a goal by forward Raul Ruidiaz (9) against the Colorado Rapids during the first half at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

SEATTLE – A lightning-fast start from the Seattle Sounders was too much for the Colorado Rapids to handle at CenturyLink Field Saturday. The Sounders knocked in two goals in the first eight minutes—the fastest brace in club history—in front of a crowd of 37,725 in a 2-0 home win.

“That was a pretty tremendous opening 10 minutes,” Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer said. “They were up for the game. They were fast, they played fast. The quality of our goals, of some of our play was tremendous.”

The first strike came in the fifth minute. A cross from Brad Smith rattled off defenders and attackers alike before Kelvin Leerdam slammed a loose rebound home. Rapids goalkeeper Tim Howard appeared to argue with referee Baldomero Toledo that he had been interfered with in the scrum, but Toledo let the goal stand.

Leerdam said the improvement comes now that he is fully healthy.

“Last year, I was not fit. Last year, I had six assists. I was happy with that, but you always try to give your team more, and when you feel that you’re body isn’t right, that always sticks in the back of your head. I feel happy. My family is here now. I feel good.”

Seattle scored again three minutes later, when Victor Rodriguez found Raul Ruidiaz open in the box after a long ball up the field had been trapped by Jordan Morris. The second goal broke Seattle’s previous record for the fastest in a match the club has scored twice. Clint Dempsey and Marco Pappa had previously put Seattle 2-0 up over Real Salt Lake on the final day of the regular season in 2015.

 

The Rapids searched for an opening goal, but couldn’t find the back of the net. A volley from Jack Price sliced just over the crossbar in the 40th minute, and a Diego Rubio low rocket went wide of the post in the 67th.

In the late stages of the game, Seattle focused on dominating possession, finishing with an average of 81.2 percent possession over the final 15 minutes of play. Schmetzer brought on centerback Roman Torres as a third centerback as Seattle still managed to find opportunities in the final third.

“I was pleased that I could find some minutes for Roman,” Schmetzer said. “When I brought Roman on we were playing 5-2-3. Brad (Smith) was getting forward,  Leerdam was getting forward. We’ve got experienced centerbacks. It’s actually an attacking formation when the game is going in your favor. We can get our outside guys higher up the field and with Nico (Lodeiro) and Harry (Shipp) pinching in we can create some chances.”

The match was zealously refereed by Toledo, who handed out seven yellow cards on 32 fouls.

Colorado outshot the hosts a slim 15-13, but could only force three saves out of Sounders keeper Stefan Frei, who kept the club’s first clean sheet of the season.

The Sounders won their first two matches of the season for the first time since 2012, when the club won seven of its first nine matches. While still early, the mark may serve as an important measure for a club that has developed a reputation for slow starts in league play in recent years.

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