It's been just shy of two months since the Seattle Sounders picked up their last win in MLS play and just over a year since Steve Zakuani stepped on the pitch. Both streaks came to an end tonight, as the Sounders won in impressive fashion over the Colorado Rapids and Zakuani made his return in the 86th minute. While Zakuani's return will grabmost of the headlines, the Sounders performance was as encouraging as any they've had all season and brought to mind the team that dominated MLS for large portions of last season.
The Sounders went on the offensive from the outset, setting up shop in the Rapids final third and not letting up for the majority of the first half. Despite dominating the run of play, Seattle was unable to find the net and the game became much more even as it headed into the break before the half ended scoreless. Seattle took control again once play resumed, and it took very little time to find the breakthrough with Alvaro Fernandez heading home from a corner in the 52nd minute to pick up his first goal of the season. Eddie Johnson doubled the lead just 12 minutes later in the moments after yet another corner, finding a Mauro Rosales cross and picking up the Sounders second headed goal of the night.
From there the game settled a bit and seemed ell on its way to being a ground-out 2-0 win for Seattle until the 79th minute, when Omar Cummings slipped behind Patrick Ianni to hammer a clever ball from Luis Zapata past Bryan Meredith to cut the lead in half. With Zakuani stripped and ready to come into the game in the 85th minute it briefly appeared as though Colorado had equalized, but Jeff Larentowicz's shot was deflected by a clearly offside Cummings and the goal was disallowed. That would be the Rapids last real go at things and the Sounders would see out their first in in nearly two months, building off of some strong performances and playing the kind of soccer which brought them so much success last season but has been so lacking during this most recent stretch.
Despite going winless since early May, Seattle is now in possession of the all-important third spot in the Western Conference standings and sits a daunting but not-insurmountable seven points behind first-place San Jose. Perhaps more importantly the win puts ten points between Seattle and sixth-placed Chivas USA, meaning that for the moment the playoffs still seem to be just slightly less than a given. This hasn't been an especially enjoyable few months, but tonight Seattle showed how good they are still capable of being; the next step is to do consistently.