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Drilling down on: at Seattle 1, Colorado 0

Osvaldo Alonso, Luis Noriega

Seattle Sounders FC’s Osvaldo Alonso, left, battles for the ball with Jaguares De Chiapas’ Luis Noriega, right, in the first half of an exhibition soccer match, Wednesday, Feb. 29, 2012, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)


Man of the Match: At his Cuban wrecking ball best, there is no more disruptive force than Osvaldo Alonso. Colorado had ample possession at some parts of the match, but mostly in non-dangerous areas. When they pressed into Seattle’s end, Alonso was the unmovable object. The Rapids formation (4-3-3) meant Seattle was usually outnumbered by 3-to-2 in the middle; no matter with Alonso buzzing around and tackling with such brutal effectiveness.

Packaged for take-away:

  • Colorado actually controlled Saturday’s match for about 15-20 minutes before intermission. Once Seattle at halftime, pushing its defense forward by about 20 yards, the Rapids had all kinds of trouble getting out of their own end.
  • Big moments from Matt Pickens, enjoying a good day in Colorado goal, kept things close til the final whistle.
  • Seattle right back Zach Scott had a Man of the Match-type afternoon, too. He came oh-so-close to banging one home from off a set play early. Later, his header off a corner kick was even better, a tough angled header inserted neatly inside the far post. On defense, he made sure Rapids left wing Tony Cascio had a quiet afternoon.
  • By the way, the man Scott escaped for his game-winning header: Jeff Larentowicz, one of the league’s top defensive midfielders and a man not known for losing his marks on dead balls.
  • It really is amazing how pedestrian Omar Cummings looks when Conor Casey isn’t around to occupy defenders and act as a forward-stationed target presence. Casey should be back on the field soon for the Rapids.
  • Even when Cummings, a Jamaican international, got behind Seattle’s back line, he just couldn’t make it happen. Cummings will always be more dangerous when coming inside from the right, making those preferred runs in behind the left back and looking for second balls off Casey.
  • David Estrada, usually a forward, started on the right, while Eddie Johnson partnered with Fredy Montero along Seattle’s front line.
  • Johnson’s first start was promising, with some effective linking play and a springing pass here and there. The former U.S. international also showed he’s still dangerous as a target for crosses into the six-yard box. Other times, however, he needs to think quicker and be more aggressive with the ball once it enters the final third.
  • Alex Caskey may not have the veteran know-how and eye for space like Alvaro Fernandez, the man he replaced along Seattle’s left side. But the young reserve from Georgia did just what a young reserve from Georgia should: ran like his kit was on fire and found a way to be a bother on attack and defense.