The Seattle Sounders snapped their seven-match winless streak at the most opportune time -- their MLS Cup Playoffs opener. Thanks to goals by Brad Evans and Eddie Johnson, the Sounders beat the Colorado Rapids in the Western Conference play-in match, 2-0, to advance to the conference semifinals, where a tie against the rivals Portland Timbers awaits them.
Evans put the Sounders in front after 28 minutes when a failed Rapids clearance fell to him at 15 yards, and he chested it down then hit it first time on the half volley. It was a perfect hit, hard and low to the far post, leaving Clint Irwin no chance as the Sounders took a 1-0 lead.
The Sounders' lead was well deserved after dominating the start of the match. The Rapids were completely overwhelmed and appeared to be undone by Oscar Pareja's curious decision to start Atiba Harris over Dillon Powers. Colorado's insistence on attacking down the right, instead of the left where Chris Klute and Deshorn Brown should have dominated, didn't help either.
With Colorado in shambles, Seattle kept attacking and should have been up by two or three by the hour mark, but Irwin was good, their finishing poor and their luck non-existent. Things took a turn for the worse five minutes from time, when Michael Gspurning handled the ball outside of his box and, upset with Edson Buddle's appeals for a call, shoved the Rapids striker in the face. There's no doubt that Buddle sold the call, but it was a stupid move by Gspurning and he was shown a red card for his foolishness.
With a man advantage, the Rapids thought they might be able to manage an equalizer, but it never came. They still couldn't get anything together and in the 90th minute, Johnson took a pass from Clint Dempsey, beautifully skirted his defender and slotted the ball home to cap off a comfortable win for the home side.
That seven-match winless streak, over. Next up, the Timbers in one of MLS's most anticipated playoff ties ever.
Gspurning, Yedlin, Hurtado,Traore, Gonzalez, Evans, Alonso, Moffat, Dempsey, Neagle, Johnson.
Goals: Evans 28', Johnson 90'
Red cards: Gspurning 85'
Irwin, O'Neill, Moor, Mera, Klute, Thomas, Sturgis, Harris, Rivero Brown, Torres.