Seattle--The Sounders defeated Colorado 2-0 with goals from Brad Evans and Eddie Johnson. Clint Dempsey notched his first assist as a Sounder on Johnson's goal in the 93rd minute.

Seattle will be without keeper Michael Gspurning for the first leg playoff match against the Portland Timbers on Saturday. The Austrian net minder caught a ball outside the penalty area that resulted in a red card and automatic ejection late in the match. Marcus Hahnemann will replace Gspurning in the nets.

In the video below, head coach Sigi Schmid addressed the keeper change in his post game comments. Gspurning shared his thoughts on the ejection, while Johnson discussed the improvement in playing with Dempsey.

The Sounders expect a crowd of over 64,000 fans for Sunday's last regular season match against the LA Galaxy. Supporters will be wondering which team will show up.

With the playoffs looming, will it be the side that lost one match in August and September? Or, is it the current Sounders riding a late season four-game losing streak?

Some of the key considerations include:

Goalkeeping

Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid started Marcus Hahnemann the last two regular season matches in place of season long starter Michael Gspurning.

Schmid pulled the Austrian keeper after he gave up nine goals in two games. Hahnemann's lost his two away starts by scores of 0-1 and 0-2 to Portland and FC Dallas, respectively.

Scoring

Lamar Neagle Sounders cropped

Lamar Neagle (Wikimedia Commons)

Despite the presence of Eddie "Show Me The Money" Johnson, Obafemi Martins, Clint Dempsey and Lamar Neagle the Sounders are 13th in goals scored. Johnson leads the team with nine, with Martins and Neagle tied with eight each.

The lack of chemistry and offensive production could be attributed to nagging injuries, national team callups and an ever-changing lineup.

Clint Dempsey

The high-profile and multi-million dollar signing of Dempsey was supposed to be a turning point for the Seattle franchise. Management must be concerned with the lack of production from the former English Premier League player.

In 561 minutes of play, he's failed to record a single goal or assist. Dempsey's been the recipient of several hard tackles and currently suffering from a shoulder injury.

Should he find his scoring touch in the playoffs, all will be forgiven.

Home field advantage

Seattle's lost two home games in 16 matches (10-2-4 34 points), and could exceed their previous record of 35 points with a win over the Galaxy. In seven matches where home attendance exceeded 53,000, the Sounders won each one.

Head coach Sigi Schmid.

Schmid's faced numerous challenges this year: the Dempsey acquisition hoopla, an ever changing game day roster due to World Cup qualification, shaky late-season goalkeeping and assorted injuries to key players.

Team owners aren't satisfied with making the playoffs for the fifth consecutive year. The pressure's on the veteran MLS gaffer to bring a championship home to Seattle.

Should the Sounders fail to come close in their quest, look for significant player and coaching changes before the start of the 2014 season.

Game Summary

The Colorado Rapids humiliated the visiting Sounders FC squad by scoring four goals in the first half and eventually winning 5-1. Colorado's victory ended Seattle's seven-game unbeaten streak.

Head coach Sigi Schmid entered the match with several key players out due to injuries: forwards Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins, midfielder Shalrie Joseph, defenders Djimi Traore and Leo Gonzalez.

Colorados' Deshorn Brown notched the first of his two goals 13 seconds into the match, ansd tallied his second 30 minutes later. Dillon Powers, Drew Moor and Gabriel Torres rounded out the rest of the Rapids' goal scorers.

Sounders FC forward Eddie Johnson scored his ninth goal of the year in the 63rd minute to prevent the shuthout.

Eddie Johnson Seattle Sounders

Eddie Johnson--Wikimedia Commons

Man of the Match: Deshorn Brown

"[The ball] was coming my way and I just took it, and we just started from there. We played a long ball and headed back to Torres, then he played back to me and I just ran up to it and put it in the back of the goal."--Deshorn Brown, Colorado Rapids forward

"It was great for him [to get the early goal], and Deshorn needed it as well...I spoke to him during the week, and he knew how badly we needed this result. He did excellent at training during the week. Everything came together for Deshorn [Brown] today, and we're very glad for him."--Oscar Pareja, Colorado Rapids head coach

Colorado's Fast Start

"When you score 13 seconds into the game, that's a pretty quick start. To be honest, that kickoff is something we work on. We train on that. We don't always expect to score off that, but to get in their half, get up the field and start putting early pressure on them. I think we have started slow at times at home, and usually we use the second half to build off of, and we score goals late, but this was different tonight, this was pretty special."--Drew Moor, Colorado Rapids defender

Seattle's Poor First Half Performance

"No, it's good to get your ass kicked at this time of the year, just to remind you that this is the real thing and if you don?t come out completely prepared mentally and ready to give everything you have, you're going to get your ass kicked."--Sigi Schmid, Seattle Sounders FC head coach

Sounders' Improved Second Half

"Well, the message was that we wanted to win the second half, which we did, up until they got the injury time goal from Torres. But just that we needed to show some character, to play better, to win the second half. That was our objective. And not to do anything stupid, not to pick up a red card, which obviously we didn't accomplish (Zach Scott was sent off after receiving his second yellow card of the match)...But at the end of the day, Colorado was better than us today."

Seattle forwards Obafemi Martins and Lamar Neagle tallied their eight goals of the year in the 2-0 victory over Real Salt Lake. The win before 55,107 fans was Seattle's fifth in a row and put them at the top of the Western Conference standings and first place in overall points.

JHG 0105

Courtesy of Jane Gershovich

With Clint Dempsey and Eddie Johnson starting the game on the bench due to their National Team commitments, Martins and Neagle showcased Seattle's offensive depth. Dempsey and Johnson eventually entered the game in the second half.

"With the minutes that Clint (Dempsey) had played and the minutes Eddie (Johnson) had on Tuesday... we decided, 'Hey, we've been in a good run and they are a little bit tired, let's use them off the bench today,'" Schmid said. "We knew they would participate and help us. Clint was unlucky with a couple of good chances and Eddie was almost in there as well a couple of times...It just shows the depth of our team."

Seattle notched their fifth win in a row and holds a single point edge over Real Salt Lake with two games in hand. The Sounders extended their home unbeaten streak to to 13 games (10-0-3).

Below is the video from the post-match press conferences with Real Salt Lake head coach Jason Kreis and Schmid:

Lamar Neagle tallied his seventh goal of the year in the 2-1 victory over the Chicago Fire. The Fire struck in the 25th minute on Mike Magee's shot inside the post. The former Galaxy player's 15th goal of the year maintained his status as the MLS' scoring leader.

Lamar Neagle Sounders cropped

Lamar Neagle (Wikimedia Commons)

The game remained tied until the 89th minute of play. Zach Scott's cross was redirected by Gonzalo Segares past a surprised Sean Johnson. With the win, Seattle extended its home unbeaten streak to 12 games (9-0-3).

Neagle's strike in the 40th minute was his seventh MLS goal of the year, tying him with forward Eddie Johnson for the team lead.

The Sounders last minute victory took place without the services of Johnson, Clint Dempsey and Brad Evans. All three were selected for the US Men's National Team matches against Costa Rica and Mexico. Evans stayed in Seattle to recuperate from a calf strain suffered in last weekend's match against Columbus.

Seattle forward Obafemi Martins returned to action and led the Sounders with four shots, two of which were on goal.

Friday's matchup in Seattle against Real Salt Lake positions the Rave Green to take Western Conference lead. The Sounders have two games in hand and are within two points of first place Real Salt Lake.

Clint Dempsey, the Sounders' newest and priciest acquisition, made his first home appearance in front of 67,385 on Sunday night. His debut added to the Cascadia derby intensity against long-time rivals, the Portland Timbers.

Forward Eddie Johnson scored the lone goal on a header from midfielder Mauro Rosales. His tally provided the margin to send the Sounders into fifth place in the Western Conference.

"The ball got out wide to Mauro and I just had to attack," Johnson said. "I knew it was going to be a frustrating game, but for me I wanted to use my experience and when the opportunity came rise to the occasion."

Dempsey took his fair share of lumps from Portland's defenders. He noted the physical nature of MLS in his post-match press conference.

"It's going to be physically played. It's a man's game," Dempsey said "You just have to keep getting up and try to figure out ways to avoid challenges and try to get good looks-try to play people through, try to get shots on goal."

Despite failing to score in his third match as a Sounder, Dempsey remains optimistic.

"I'm happy with the way things are going," the former English Premier League player said. "I feel like I'm getting stronger every game in fitness and my quality of touches, and the looks that I'm getting, and it's only a matter of time before it starts falling in the net for me."

Below is the video of Portland and Seattle supporters in action, and some of the pre-match festivities.

Clint Dempsey discussed with the media the reasons for his return to Major League Soccer.

The current U.S. Men's National Team captain shared his views on the rationale to leave the English Premier League, what attracted him to choose the Pacific Northwest as his new home, and his fitness level.

Head coach Sigi Schmid provided their thoughts on Dempsey's potential impact on the club. General manager and minority owner Adrian Hanauer reviewed the two-year odyssey to obtain MLS' latest high-visibility signing.

Clint Dempsey, captain of the U.S. Men's National Team, joined Seattle Sounders FC owner Joe Roth on the pitch prior to the MLS matchup against FC Dallas. Roth announced to the sold out crowd that Dempsey was the newest member of the club.

"This is a historic day for Sounders FC and our fans," Roth said. "Clint is a world-class soccer player who can take this club to a higher level. We have been consistent in our message to the fans that we will spare no expense to win trophies."

Dempsey will be MLS' highest player with an estimated four-year contract at $8 million per season. The 30-year-old returns to MLS after spending seven years in the English Premier League.

"I am very excited about coming back to the MLS and thrilled to be joining Sounders FC," Dempsey said. "Having recently played in Seattle with the National Team, I experienced the incredible atmosphere and the passion from the supporters first-hand."

Below is a video from several Seattle broadcasters and sportswriters commenting on Dempsey's move back to the Sounders and its impact on MLS.

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John Zielonka

John Zielonka is a lifelong fan of soccer. He previously lived in Detroit and attended numerous NASL matches featuring the Detroit Express. John follows the local soccer scene and is the Seattle correspondent for Goal.com, where he writes about the Seattle Sounders and MLS for Goal.com. Internationally, he's viewed matches at the World Cup, Confederation Cup, England's Premier and Championship leagues.



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