If there was ever a perfect night for a soccer team, Saturday proved to be it for the Seattle Sounders. Short of winning a MLS Cup, this was probably one of the happiest nights for the Sounders fans. Fans and players had to endure a long nine match league winless streak. A streak that wasn’t fully explainable, the team had played well in spurts, they were able to score from open play, they were gradually gain points and they had found a goal scorer in Eddie Johnson, but still the wins eluded them.
Signs that the streak was soon to end was evident in the first 20 minutes of the match. Seattle had crisp one touch passing, players were making runs off the ball, and the team showed confidence in all aspects of the game. Yet the final touch eluded them in the final third of the field. Despite getting into space Eddie Johnson couldn’t get his shots on frame and Matt Pickens was up to early chances from Alvaro Fernandez. But Seattle was able to break the dead lock in the 52th minute off a set piece goal by Fernandez. It was the first goal of the year for Fernandez and you could see the relief on his face. He almost doubled his tally a minute later. Another goal by Eddie Johnson sealed the win in the 64th. Even though Colorado pulled a goal back and nearly had a tying goal after pressuring Seattle’s goal for the last 8 minutes, the night will be remembered for the return of Steve Zakuani.
Zakuani’s substitution in the 86th minute was what the whole Sounder nation had been waiting for, for the last 15 months. And as he jogged onto the field you could see that Brian Mullen had been waiting as well. After suffering a double leg break, not only did I wonder when Zakuani would return but I wondered when both players would be able to have closure and move on. Seeing them hug and exchange jerseys at the end of the match showed that that closure has come. Steve Zakuani and Brian Mullen may always be connected by that horror tackle, but perhaps their closure will provide closure for the fans as well. With this win and the return of Zakuani, it must feel like a new season has started Saturday night for the Seattle Sounders and their fans.