As the crowd was still breathing a sigh of relief, Seattle manager Sigi Schmid substituted a player for the final minutes, a player that last played 15 months ago against these same Colorado Rapids. During that match on April 22, 2011, Steve Zakuani was taken out in a vicious tackle by Rapids defender Brian Mullan. The tackle broke Zakuani’s leg so badly, there was a legitimate concern he would never walk again without a limp, much less play soccer in the MLS.
As number 11 (Zakuani) walked onto the pitch Sunday, replacing the masterful Rosales, the crowd, already loud, exploded into jubilation usually only heard when the Seahawks are in the playoffs. It was a moment of supreme joy for all the players on the field.
The Rapids kept up the pressure, almost scoring again in extra time before referee Kevin Stott blew the whistle, kicking off the party in the terraces.
On the field, Zakuani met with Mullan. The two exchanged jerseys and a hug, closing the book on an ugly injury.
Seattle plays again on July 11, hosting Chivas USA for a U.S. Open Cup match before traveling to New York to face the Red Bull on July 15.
Photo Credits: John Lok/Seattle Times, Brendan Vaughn