Sports

Sounders’ streak hits 9

SEATTLE – Sounders FC earned its celebration Saturday – and also a little something to worry about.

For the second consecutive Major League Soccer game, Seattle came from behind twice, this time beating the Colorado Rapids, 4-3, before a sellout crowd of 36,424 at CenturyLink Field.

For the first time in club history, the Sounders fell behind in the opening minute. And then for the second time in as many weekends, they fell behind again after equalizing.

And yet they rallied for their third straight home win and extended their MLS unbeaten streak to nine games. They improved their overall record to 10-4-8.

“Who says soccer’s not exciting?” coach Sigi Schmid said. “Obviously, the character we showed again coming back after being down twice was superb. My hat’s off to the team in that regard.”

However, there was another regard – a nagging one.

Combined with the 3-2 win at Portland last week, the Sounders have given up five goals over their last two league games.

And through the victory music blaring in the locker room, players acknowledged they must use the coming two-week break in their MLS season to tighten things on the back end.

“Obviously it’s a concern, and it’s back to the drawing board and get back to our bread and butter, and that’s good team defense and that’s winning critical defensive moments,” defender James Riley said. “That’s huge, whether it’s a clearance or a tackle or a blocked shot. (Jeff) Parke is my partner, and if he messes up I want to cover for him. And he’s done that for me so many times I was definitely mad at myself for not being able to block that shot.”

Riley was referring to the first goal, when Parke’s attempted clearance went to the foot of Colorado’s Wells Thompson, who beat Kasey Keller to the far post.

After an Alvaro Fernandez goal drew Seattle back even, Jeff Larentowicz restored Colorado’s lead in the 42nd minute, finishing off at the far post after a pass back from Thompson.

Seattle answered and seemed to put the Rapids away with a sliding kick from Roger Levesque, a diving header by Fredy Montero, and a nice Montero-to-Mauro Rosales combination that proved to be the winner.

However, the Rapids’ Caleb Folan scored unassisted in the 89th minute to keep things tense until the final whistle.

“This was probably the worst disciplined defensively that we were all year,” goalkeeper Kasey Keller said.

The veteran from Lacey called it, “frustrating because we can’t let that creep into our game.”

You can’t just give up goals and expect to keep coming back, said Keller, who will retire after this season.

Seattle survived because things are going so well in the attacking third. The Sounders have scored seven goals over their last two league games, 10 goals over their last three competitions, and have scored two or more goals in eight of their last 11 competitions.

“If you focus on one guy, hopefully another guy is going to come along and hurt you,” Schmid said. “That’s what’s important about our team. Today, we got four goals from the run of play, which was also good. We’ve got some goals from set pieces, so if we can get goals from set pieces and the run of play and goals from different players, that makes us a more difficult team.”

Ultimately, the Sounders were too much for the Rapids (6-6-9).

“When you score three goals you expect to get something coming out after the game,” Colorado coach Gary Smith said. “The second-half performance started in a poor fashion. … After feeling pretty good about ourselves going into halftime up 2-1, the second goal we gave up was a big dent to us, and a big boost of confidence for Seattle. The third goal, I felt was coming, the pressure started to mount, and Seattle was playing very confident. They have been playing that way for a long period of time.”

The Sounders return to action Wednesday with a friendly against Manchester United. However, they don’t face another league match until a visit to Houston on July 30.

Don Ruiz, 253-597-8808 don.ruiz@thenewstribune.com twitter/donruiztnt blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer

WEDNESDAY

Manchester United at Sounders FC, 7 p.m., Fox Soccer Channel, 97.3-FM

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