SEATTLE (AP) — The Seattle Sounders got back into the win column for the first time in two months, and Steve Zakuani got back into a game for the first time in more than year.
Alvaro Fernandez scored on a header in the 52nd minute, and Eddie Johnson headed one in early in the 64th, both assisted by Mauro Rosales, as Seattle halted a nine-game winless streak on Saturday night by beating the Colorado Rapids, 2-1.
The Sounders (8-5-6, 30 points) had not won since a 2-0 decision at Dallas on May 9. Between then and Saturday, they went 0-4-5.
Second-half sub Omar Cummings scored in the 79th minute for Colorado (7-10-1, 22 points), which has lost two straight and four of its last five. An apparent tying goal by Jeff Larentowicz midway through the 85th minute was flagged offside.
“I guess the rumors of our demise were maybe a bit premature,” Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said. “I told them that as long as we kept fighting and battling and became a tough team to beat, our soccer would get back to where it was, and I thought that tonight at times, our soccer was good. It would have been nice to have it be 2-0 or 3-0 and be a lot cleaner than it was. But there were a lot of bright spots for us tonight.”
One of those for Seattle was the return of speedy midfielder Zakuani, who played for the first time since April 22, 2011, when he suffered a broken right leg during a game in Colorado on a hard tackle by Brian Mullan. The Rapids forward was suspended for 10 games. Zakuani came on early in the 86th minute to a loud standing ovation from the 39,060 fans at CenturyLink Field.
“I tried to visualize what that moment would be like for over a year,” Zakuani said after his absence of 45 regular-season games and 64 games across all competitions came to an end. “It was a great final checkmark that I had in my mind.”
Zakuani and Mullan exchanged a hug and their No. 11 jerseys after the game.
“I said from Day 1 that I had no issues with him. I had forgiven him a long time ago,” Zakuani said. “I think it was good to have a public moment for closure. He can go on with his career, and I can try to do the same with my career.”
Rosales set up Seattle’s first goal with a corner kick from the attacking right side. It floated to the top center of Colorado goalkeeper Matt Pickens’ 6-yard box. Fernandez’ header ricocheted off the ground and over the outstretched fingers of Pickens into the roof of the net for his first goal of the season.
Another Rosales corner led indirectly to Johnson’s goal. The corner was cleared out of the penalty area, but went right back to Rosales on the left side. Johnson met his cross into the box and headed it into the back left corner from eight yards straight in front. It was his team-leading eighth goal of the year.
Cummings, who came on in the 67th minute when he ran onto a ball from Luis Zapata at the top right corner of the 6-yard box and beat Sounders goalkeeper Bryan Meredith to the back right corner.
“That’s what a coach wants any sub to do – add some energy, take on defenders and get the best positions,” Cummings said. “I think we definiltey put some higher pressure on Seattle and got our chances.”
But Rapids coach Oscar Pareja said his team allowed too many chances.
“We gave up too many corners and set pieces and ended up paying for that,” Pareja said. “Seattle did a good job in the first 15 minutes of the game, but our team reacted well for the rest of the game. We gave a good reaction in the last 25 minutes, for sure.”
(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)