Dempsey’s brace downs Rapids


The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By John Meyer John Meyer: jmeyer@den­ver­ or @john­meyer

COM­MERCE CITY» The last time Rapids fans saw Clint Dempsey, he was let­ting it be known that he didn’t ap­pre­ci­ate U.S. na­tional team coach Bruce Arena’s de­ci­sion to re­move him from a World Cup qual­i­fy­ing game here in June against Trinidad and Tobago with a half-hour left in the match.

But the long­time Team USA star from Nacog­doches, Texas, left the field Tues­day with noth­ing but good feel­ings af­ter scor­ing twice and as­sist­ing on Seat­tle’s other goal in a 3-1 win to the dis­may of 17,432 spec­ta­tors gath­ered for the team’s an­nual Fourth of July cel­e­bra­tion.

“We just didn’t do a good enough job of win­ning the first long ball and win­ning sec­onds,” Rapids coach Pablo Mas­troeni said. “That was their big­gest threat. And the cover from the guys that weren’t chal­leng­ing (the ball) wasn’t good enough at times, and we were a bit ex­posed. When you get in a game of this mag­ni­tude and you are be­hind, you start to feel your legs go a lot quicker. They did ev­ery­thing they could, given the sit­u­a­tion that we were in.”

The “sit­u­a­tion” was hav­ing to play a sixth game in 18 days. Yet Mas­troeni elected to go with the same lineup that posted an easy win over Hous­ton on Satur­day, a risk given that the 11 were play­ing on only two days of rest. The Sounders clearly were the team with fresher legs and scored twice in the first half on plays that left dan­ger­ous Seat­tle strik­ers wide open.

Dempsey struck first af­ter Eric Miller gave him en­tirely too much room in the penalty area in the sixth minute, Dempsey pun­ish­ing him from 12 yards out for a 1-0 lead. To be fair, the mid­field­ers in front of Miller left him in a tough spot, let­ting Dempsey run through the cen­ter of the field un­mo­lested. But Miller was vic­tim­ized again in the 30th minute, slip­ping to the turf as Dempsey played a ball to Will Bruin which Bruin put away from 7 yards out.

Mas­troeni said the Seat­tle strik­ers were able to “get into the chan­nels,” which was an un­der­state­ment: They ran free through seams down the mid­dle of the field. In an at­tempt to shore things up, Mas­troeni re­moved left back Mekeil Wil­liams at half­time, mov­ing mid­fielder Dil­lon Serna back into Wil­liams’ spot and send­ing in Caleb Calvert to man Serna’s left mid­field spot.

Colorado halved Seat­tle’s lead in the 78th minute when Mar­lon Hairston made a per­fect cross from the right wing which Do­minique Badji put away. The Rapids thought they were still in it un­til Dempsey got free yet again and scored a fan­tas­tic goal in the 85th minute.

Now the Rapids don’t play un­til July 22 — a road game at Toronto — and won’t play at home again un­til Aug. 5.

Mas­troeni hinted the Rapids will ac­quire two play­ers dur­ing the in­ter­na­tional trans­fer win­dow, which opens next week.

“It was one of those games, there was no flow to it — a lot of stop­ping and start­ing,” Badji said. “Th­ese games are go­ing to hap­pen. We just need to re­group, see who’s next, ex­ploit their weak­nesses and get some more wins.”

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