By: Karen Watson
SEATTLE – Giving an uncharacteristically lackluster performance the Sounders were still able to squeak out a 1-0 win in stoppage time over visitors Sporting Kansas City, helping the home side move from fifth to second in the Western Conference standings.
Historically the Sounders have left it late against Kansas City, like last season’s nail bitter that saw Mike Fucito score his first MLS goal and secure Seattle’s 1-0 win – once again in the added minutes. This time around defender Jeff Parke became the hero when he capitalized on Tyson Wahl’s corner kick, heading the ball past KC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen in the 93’. With so many key attacking players on the injured list, Coach Sigi Schmid put pressure on the team to create opportunities. “I actually pointed around before the game and asked when was the last time you scored a goal, headed one in? It was two or three seasons ago for the guy who actually scored the goal. So maybe I need to do that next time and somebody else will come up with one.”
Both back lines looked shaky in the opening minutes of the match, leaving players unmarked and allowing them to send balls thru. Kansas City’s best chance of the half came in the 5’ when midfielder Ryan Smith, who was left open, took a shot from ten yards out but Seattle goalkeeper Kasey Keller was able to get a hand on it.
Throughout the match both teams lacked energy, looking flat and playing without urgency. Sloppy passing on both sides created a stuttering momentum to the game and the ball continually got caught up in midfield as players bunched up instead of going out wide. Seattle midfielder Servando Carrasco attempted to play on the wing but to little effect, with few touches on the ball and many of those he did have weren’t well finished. Schmid commented on the different formation after the game. “We need better balance there, Carrasco sometimes he’s inside sometimes he’s outside. But he’s a rookie he’s still learning things but he makes better decisions every time he steps on the field. At times I thought we held the ball well, I thought sometimes we were a little disjointed in the diamond in the midfield.”
The Sounders had a few chances before the break all of which were set up or taken by Mauro Rosales, back in the lineup for the first time after recovering from a hamstring strain, with the best coming in the 35’ when Roger Levesque drilled one straight at goal but sending it just high.
Second half action continued much the same as the first forty-five but with each side seeing a few more shots on goal. Three Seattle free kicks came in short order all from the same spot, 25 yards out and to the right of goal but none of which resulted in insurance for the Sounders. Kansas City finally put Keller to the test in the 51’ on a beautifully executed free kick by Omar Bravo that was only narrowly punched away the Seattle team captain.
As the minutes ticked away a sense of urgency finally crept into the game and Seattle began applying more pressure in an effort to get the three points. Second half substitute Fucito created some excitement in the 83’ and 84’ but both shots were successfully blocked by Nielsen. But then just when it looked like this would end in a scoreless draw, Parke connected with Wahl’s corner kick, eighth of the game for Seattle, sending up a roar from the fans at Qwest Field.
Jubilation for the Sounders but heartbreak for Sporting Kansas City who were handed their fifth consecutive loss and are facing a long ten game road trip while their new stadium is in the final construction stages. Not only did Seattle get a needed boost from their first win since April 30 but also from visits by Steve Zakuani (broken leg) and O’Brien White (blood clot), who were both recently released from the hospital. With momentum on their side, they next face FC Dallas at home on May 25.