The scoring came early for both teams. For Sporting KC, Jacob Peterson scored in the eighth minute because the Sounders defense, after getting thoroughly abused by Montreal 4-1 in their last match, failed to clear a throw-in into the penalty area. Aurélien Collin controlled the ball and got it into Peterson, who fired a shot from about 16 yards out. The shot deflected off Sounders midfielder Osvaldo Alonso and into the upper corner, leaving new keeper Andrew Weber no chance to save.
Weber started because first string keeper Michael Gspurning is still out with injury and second string Bryan Meredith went from being a wall to being a sieve. It’s not all Meredith’s fault; the Sounders defense has looked completely disinterested and unorganized over the last few games. It makes me wonder if the backline is missing retired keeper Kasey Keller’s organization skills more than I thought they would.
Still, like the pitcher in baseball and quarterback in football, the easiest change to make is the keeper, so Meredith moved to the bench and Weber moved between the posts. Weber played well though, up to the challenge after the defense blew the goal to Peterson.
The first half was a back and forth affair with both teams having a lot of chances. Peterson’s goal woke up the Sounders, firing them up to attack. On the right wing, Brad Evans almost connected on two crosses rapid fire style in the 12th minute. Fredy Montero came close to springing Zach Scott from a free kick two minutes later.
Without giving anyone time for a breath, a minute later, midfielder Mauro Rosales lofted in a free kick from the right side from about 25 yards out. Patrick Ianni timed it perfectly, hitting a spectacular side-footed shot from about eight yards that left Sporting Kansas City keeper Jimmy Nielsen gawping. Do yourself a favor, watch the replay here; this has to be in goal of the year consideration.
Ianni has been out since May 5th with a back injury. He showed no problem with his back on this shot though. Sounders fans everywhere will be happy to see him back in the starting rotation.
The second half became a slugfest as both teams tried to out muscle the other. As usual, the physical play led to hard fouls and pushing late. The two teams combining for 30 fouls but many more weren’t called. There were five yellow cards, with Sounders midfielder Álvaro Fernández earning a straight red card for a very hard tackle on Sporting Kansas City’s Roger Espinoza in stoppage time. Fernandez was retaliating for being taken out from behind by Espinoza just seconds before but the tackle he put on Espinoza fully deserved a red card.
Between the fouls, both teams had great chances to get three points in the second half. Seattle almost scored in the 88th minute, when goal scorer miastro Fredy Montero got around the defense and blistered a shot from six yards out. Nielsen somehow managed to get a hand on the ball. The ball took a crazy angle on the ricochet, hitting the inside of the far post and then back out.
For Sporting Kansas City, Chance Myers put a header on target in the 71st minute that keeper Andrew Weber made a great diving save to keep out of the net.
The Sounders have been slumping, going a franchise-record six matches (0-3-3) without a win. They will be feeling the pressure as they travel to Portland on Sunday for a nationally televised rivalry. Portland will be looking to take the Cascadia Cup from Seattle.
Photo Credit: Otto Greule Jr – Getty Images