On July 7th, for the first time since May 9th, the Sounders found their groove and won in league play. The 2-1 Sounders’ victory marked the end of the seemingly never-ending winless streak that the team was previously on. The almost 2-month winless span marks the franchise record for winless games in MLS play. This streak was not easily ended, as it took a hard fought battle from Seattle to prevail past the Rapids.
The game began with Seattle having the offensive advantage. Both teams battled hard in the first half of play, and in the 41st minute Martin Rivero was put into the book for a hard tackle on Alvaro Fernandez. The half ended scoreless, with both teams having opportunities to influence the score sheet.
The second half began, and the Sounders came out as energetic as ever. Just seven minutes into the action of the second half, Alvaro Fernandez punished the Rapids’ for leaving him unmarked on a corner as he slipped a header right past Rapids’ keeper Matt Pickens to give the Sounders the 1-0 lead. After extreme criticism following Fernandez’ lackluster play thus far, Alvaro finally found a breakthrough to score his first goal of the season. Just 12 minutes later, Mauro Rosales sent in a beautiful cross that met Eddie Johnson’s head and flew into the far corner. This marked Rosales’ second assist of the night, and Johnson’s eighth goal of the season as the Sounders took a controlling 2-0 lead. The Rapids’ weren’t done for the night though, as substitute Omar Cummings took advantage of some lazy Seattle defending to bring the game back to life as he volleyed in Luis Zapata’s early cross. The Rapids’ controlled the rest of the game as the desperate Seattle defense cleared anything that they could posses in their own third. In the 86th minute, coming back in against the team he was injured against, Steve Zakuani made his long awaited return to the pitch. An amazing sight for all, the Seattle fans continuously chanted his name as his return was made ceremonious.
For the rest of the game, Zakuani displayed his lightning-fast pace which Seattle has missed ever so much. The Sounders had one last scare as Martin Rivero skied the Rapids’ best opportunity to level the game in stoppage time. The referee signaled for the game to be over, and Seattle triumphed over the Rapid’s and snapped their 9 game winless streak.
The night was a great one for the Sounders and their fans alike, as the team snapped their winless streak and also saw Steve Zakuani back on the pitch. Although the team had a great display during the game, one of the most important things that occurred on the pitch happened after the game was over. Steve Zakuani had congratulated his teammates on the win, and met with former teammate Tyrone Marshall. Then, Zakuani confronted the man who was responsible for his injury; Brian Mullan. Zakuani and Mullan embraced and swapped jerseys, and this exchange meant much more to the men as most perceived.
Zakuani, who had been sidelined for 15 months due to Mullan’s reckless tackle on him, stated on his Facebook account, “This(the embrace) was not for show. I genuinely wanted everyone to see that forgiveness is always better than bitterness”.
This act of forgiveness speaks volumes of Zakuani’s character, and can also teach us all a lesson of how not to let our pasts influence our futures.