After two uncharacteristic losses to Philadelphia at home and the Galaxy in Los Angeles, the Seattle Sounders got back on track Saturday afternoon with a 4-0 win over the Colorado Rapids.
Both losses last week can be explained easily: Injuries to key players Raul Ruidiaz and Chad Marshall in a 1-0 loss to Philadelphia, and unusual defensive mistakes led to three goals in the city of angels. The losses snapped a 12-match unbeaten streak that lasted nearly three months for the club.
On Saturday, Marshall returned from his head injury and Head Coach Brian Schmetzer returned to the 4-2-3-1 formation Seattle has used for the majority of 2018, with Ruidiaz starting at forward.
To help matters, the Sounders faced the second-to-last place team in the Western Conference, a Colorado Rapids squad with zero chance of making the MLS Playoffs. Head Coach Anthony Hudson started journeyman forward Giles Barnes at forward and saw multiple injuries keep key players from appearing in the match. Colorado's leading scorers on the field Saturday were Joe Mason and Tommy Smith- centerbacks with three goals each.
No, Saturday did not project well for Colorado. Meanwhile, for Seattle, a explosion of four goals combined with a shutout defensively confirmed what many Rave Green supporters already knew: this was the ultimate "get right" game for the Sounders.
With four winnable matches remaining in the 2018 regular season (Houston, at Orlando, at Houston, San Jose), Seattle's path to either hosting a knockout round match or attaining a bye in the MLS Playoffs is now more clear than ever. The Sounders now host the Houston Dynamo, fresh off a victory in the U.S. Open Cup final followed by a weekend win over San Jose, on Monday, October 8 at CenturyLink Field (7:30pm kickoff on Sports Radio 950 KJR).
Saturday's 4-0 blowout over Colorado featured goals by Ruidiaz (2), Nicolas Lodeiro (PK), and Victor Rodriguez. Seattle's new Peruvian striker won the fans' vote as Budweiser Man of the Match with a first half goal to open the scoring and a clinical finish to extend the lead to three in the 73rd minute.
Lodeiro, meanwhile, earned and scored a penalty kick early in the second half while dominating the midfield. The Uruguayan #10 finished with 114 touches, two assists (one while being dragged to the ground), and a 92% passing accuracy.
Rodriguez hammered home a late fourth goal, his second of the season, and locked down one of Seattle's "most complete wins of the year", according to midfielder Cristian Roldan.
Watch highlights from the victory and listen to the post-game show below, including Schmetzer's post-match press conference.