SEATTLE — Seattle Sounders FC took a seven-game winless stretch into a must-win game Wednesday — and won.
The fourth-seeded Sounders’ 2-0 knockout-round victory over the Colorado Rapids at CenturyLink Field was their first triumph since mid-September.
The Sounders took the lead in the 28th minute, on a two-touch shot from Brad Evans from just inside a top corner of the penalty area. Eddie Johnson added the insurance goal in stoppage time against the fifth-seeded Rapids.
The Sounders will advance to the Western Conference semifinals against the top-seeded Portland Timbers. The two-game, aggregate-score series begins at 7 p.m. Saturday in Seattle and will resolve Nov. 7 in Portland.
Seattle dominated the first half, starting with Adam Moffat putting a shot on goal in the third minute. Lamar Neagle, Johnson and Clint Dempsey all followed with missed chances.
The Sounders finally capitalized in the 28th minute when a rebounded ball went to Evans, who chested down to his right foot and whacked it past Colorado goalkeeper Clint Irwin.
However, the Sounders knew they still had work to do.
Three times during their winless streak, they had scored first, only to allow a tying goal. This time they were able to avoid that complication, despite a couple of major challenges.
Starting right back DeAndre Yedlin did not return for the second half because of a sprained right ankle.
Then, in the 85th minute, Sounders goalkeeper Michael Gspurning came out for a ball and handled it just outside the penalty box. He was given a red card, and the Sounders played through to the final whistle while a man down and with reserve Marcus Hahnemann rushed into goal.
Seattle finally got breathing room in stoppage time, when Johnson took a pass from Dempsey, cut inside and beat Irwin.
The winner of the Seattle-Portland series advances to the Western Conference final against the winner of the Real Salt Lake-Los Angeles semifinal series.
Gspurning will be ineligible Saturday because of his red firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer