By JASON MITCHELL
SEATTLE, Wash. - A feisty match that seemed full of goals ended in a 1-1 draw Wednesday night at CenturyLink Field. A wonder-strike from Seattle defender Patrick Ianni kept the Sounders (7-4-4) from losing back-to-back matches for the first time this season.
Midfielder Jacob Peterson opened the scoring for Sporting Kansas City (9-3-2) in just the 8th minute, unleashing a shot that deflected off Osvaldo Alonso past a helpless Andrew Weber.
"Jake's a very good finisher,'" Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes said of Peterson. "He hasn't had a chance to show that as much lately, but he can finish well. That was a great, great, great, finish by him, and more importantly [it was great] just to be in the place he was."
Weber, earning his first start in goal since playing for the San Jose Earthquakes in 2009, said he barely saw the shot.
"It's unfortunate, you know," said Weber, "I don't think there's anything I really could have done. It hit Ozzie in the leg. I think we had a wall of solid green in front of us, and I didn't see it until it comes up and over and I'm like, 'Oh [shoot].'"
The Sounders answered just seven minutes later in spectacular fashion. Ianni got on the receiving end of a Mauro Rosales free kick into the box, leaping in the air and booming an airborne one-touch volley past a frozen Jimmy Nielsen.
Talk of SportsCenter abounded in the locker room afterward.
Asked if it was the goal of his career, Ianni could only smile for a moment. "Uh, yeah, definitely," he said, "Best goal [in] practice, games, since I was born, yup."
Both teams had chances to break the tie in the second-half, but a big save from each keeper kept the score knotted.
In the 71st minute, Chance Myers drilled a header off a corner kick for what seemed a sure goal, but Weber dove hard to his left for the save.
Fredy Montero nearly gave the Sounders the victory in the waning moments of regulation, driving a shot off Nielsen's glove that then flitted along the goal line before smacking the far post and bouncing away.
A match that was physical from the start neared the boiling point as the match neared full time. Zach Scott earned a yellow for a rough tackle in the 89th minute, and Alvaro Fernandez picked up a red for taking down Roger Espinoza in the first minute of stoppage time. More than one shoving match broke out. Perhaps fortunately, the two teams don't face each other again this season.
"At the end of the day I thought it was a good, spirited effort by both teams," said Vermes.
Coming off back-to-back wins, the tie pulls Kansas City to within a point of D.C. United for the Eastern Conference lead.
"It's a tough place to play here," said Vermes. "I know our place is a tough place to play, too, and that's the way it should be. To come up here and get a result like we did was big time."
While Seattle avoided back-to-back losses, the Sounders are now winless in their last six matches after tearing through their early schedule. Still, coach Sigi Schmid was happy with how his team rebounded from a 4-1 drubbing in Montreal Saturday.
"I think it was a good response," said Schmid. "We don't lose two games in a row. We've avoided that for a long time, so I thought our response that way was good. You know, you're gonna have streaks. You're gonna have good streaks and you're gonna have bad streaks. We're in a streak right now that's not a good streak, but I'm very confident that we're close to pulling out of it."
It is unclear, though, who the Sounders' starting keeper will be moving forward—at least until Michael Gspurning returns from a hip injury.
The Sounders signed Weber, a 28-year-old Phoenix native, in February. He spent the last three seasons with the San Jose Earthquakes, starting two matches in 2009. D. C. United originally signed Weber as a developmental player in 2005, but he never escaped the reserve team. His most extensive action came for the Montreal Impact, then a USL-1 side, where he made 29 appearances from 2006 to 2008.
Asked if he's starting the Sounders' next match, Weber replied, "I hope so."
The match swung up and down the pitch in an exciting first-half that saw scoring opportunities for each side. Possession, shots, and shots-on-target were all nearly even.
In the 29th minute, Eddie Johnson danced with the ball at the top of the box, earning himself an open look at the net, but his shot sailed high and wide.
In the 32nd minute, Chase Myers sent a header over the crossbar.
Eddie Johnson nearly broke free on multiple first-half counters, but was called offside each time.