Obafemi Martins’ rebound goal in the 27th minute proved the difference as the Seattle Sounders snapped an 0-fer MLS start with a 1-0 victory over the Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park Saturday afternoon. The win was the first for Seattle, the final winless team in MLS play, and improved the club’s record to 1-3-2.
Martins had not been listed among Seattle’s probable starters by head coach Sigi Schmid, but got the call at a forward slot alongside Steve Zakuani, making his first start in Colorado since suffering a horrific broken leg two years ago.
In the 19th minute, Martins wound up and took a shot that goal written all over it. But Colorado keeper Clint Irwin got a hand on it at the last moment, deflecting it away. Eight minutes later, Martins connected.
“I’m very glad I scored today and we got the three points,” said Martins, who has been battling a knee injury. “It was a good goal and I hope to score many goals. I hope that the Sounders will win many games.”
The Sounders would have taken just about any positive result. They entered in ninth place in MLS West and had scored two league goals. For the first 10 minutes, especially, the Sounders floundered, creating no scoring opportunities. The only thing they did right was deny Colorado any scoring chances.
In the 27th minute, Martins lurked in the box as Zakuani, following a nice run by DeAndre Yedlin, laid the ball off to Shalrie Joseph, who fired a rocket that just missed.
Martins took the rebound and right-footed it past Irwin into the right corner of the net. It marked the first Seattle goal for Martins, a Nigerian, since he signed with the club as a designated player. The goal came in Martins’ second start.
Following his goal, an elated Martins performed his trademark celebration, a cartwheel followed by a backflip, to the delight of his teammates, particularly Yedlin, and the few hundred scarf-waving Seattle fans among a small crowd of Rapids partisans.
Two minutes later, in the 29th minute, the Sounders nearly went up 2-0 when Lamar Neagle ripped a shot that banged off the crossbar.
Colorado rarely threatened the rest of the half — six shots — and ended the first 45 minutes with one shot on goal against goalkeeper Michael Gspurning, who didn’t have much to do in the Colorado altitude.
Scoring opportunities were few in the second half. Neagle came close to a goal in the 71st minute, only to be denied by Irwin, who swatted his shot away. Colorado’s Jamie Smith had a point-blank header in the 88th minute, but didn’t get enough on it and Gspurning gobbled it up easily.
The Sounders, scoring their seventh consecutive victory against the Rapids, improved to 8-1-1 all-time in the rivalry. With five straight winless matches, the Sounders were threatening to join the 2009 and 2012 clubs with six or more consecutive games without a win.
Martins made certain that wouldn’t happen.
The Sounders are idle until May 4 when they travel to Philadelphia to take on the Union. After a third consecutive road match May 8 at Sporting Kansas City, the Sounders return to CenturyLink Field to host the San Jose Earthquakes May 11.