Lamar Neagle gave Seattle Sounders FC the early lead, and he followed that with what went into the books as the game-winning goal.
But whenever Seattle’s 3-1 win over the Colorado Rapids is recalled years — or decades — from now, it will be because of the final goal by Obafemi Martins, one that instantly takes its place among MLS goal of the year contenders, and among the best goals in club history.
“Three words … Lamar … Oba … WOW,” Seattle forward Chad Barrett tweeted after the match.
Martins’ magic came in the 73rd minute, with the Sounders protecting a 2-1 lead at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado.
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Andy Rose launched a long pass to Martins, who received it with his back to the goal, reversed it with his left foot between two Colorado defenders, ran just inside the penalty area and fired wide of oncoming goalkeeper Clint Irwin.
“I don’t know what I did,” Martins said. “Rose gave me a good ball, and I was thinking to control the ball facing our goal. I just decided to do something different.”
On most other nights, the memorable goal would be the opening one. That came from Neagle in the fifth minute, when he curled a shot from the top left corner of the penalty area just inside of the far top corner.
It was Neagle’s first goal of the season, and an especially appreciated one after he put five futile shots on goal the previous weekend in a scoreless draw at Los Angeles.
However, the Rapids were regularly shredding their way through the Seattle defense in the first half, and they finally made the Sounders pay in the 22nd minute. The play built down the left side before a pass across to Gabriel Torres, who ran on from the right and finished solidly.
Seattle jumped back ahead three minutes later as Irwin blocked a Neagle shot inside the box. However, the rebound dribbled its way back to Neagle, who touched it across the line to give the Sounders the 2-1 lead that they carried into halftime.
“I was making shots like that last year,” said Neagle, a Federal Way native. “(I’m just trying to) find that same momentum.”
During halftime, Seattle coach Sigi Schmid turned the Sounders defense up a notch. And with less space and time, the Rapids were less dangerous through the final 45 minutes, although they continued firing shots, ending with 27 to Seattle’s 17.
“Being up at half we felt a little fortunate,” Schmid said. “I thought in the second half we played much better. I thought they still got around our goal, but their shots were mainly from distance. There wasn’t that much on goal anymore.”
The result moved the Sounders to 3-2-1, while the Rapids fell to 1-2-3.
Neagle became the third Sounder to score this season, with his two goals trailing Martins’ four and Clint Dempsey’s three.
Dempsey played 70 minutes Saturday after being held out last weekend with a hamstring issue.
The Sounders will return home April 26 when the Portland Timbers visit CenturyLink Field.