Photo by Jane Gershovich | JaneG Photography
By JASON MITCHELL
SEATTLE – Defending champion Sporting Kansas City, resting multiple starters ahead of a big midweek match, nearly escaped rainy CenturyLink Field with a draw in the 2014 MLS season opener. A pair of Seattle newcomers sent them home without a point.
With the score tied 0-0 in the waning moments of stoppage time, late Seattle substitute Chad Barrett found the back of the net, emerging from a scrum in the box to redirect a Clint Dempsey volley past goalkeeper Eric Kronberg. Homegrown player Sean Okoli, coming on in the 86th minute in his MLS debut, sent in the cross that found Dempsey for an initial header that slapped off the crossbar.
“I was excited to just be on the bench, you know,” Barrett said about his debut. “The pregame festivities and just to see the crowd and the Emerald City Supporters’ section just yelling the entire game, it’s so loud, and then when I scored I couldn’t even hear myself screaming. I’m pretty sure I was screaming or I was going through puberty, one of the two. I couldn’t hear myself scream. I was telling the guys that haven’t scored here yet that it’s just an unbelievable feeling, especially with all 40,000 people staying until the very end.”
Seattle (1-0-0) nearly went up in the 69th minute, but newly acquired forward Kenny Cooper sent a wide-open volley just past the far post. Minutes earlier Cooper narrowly missed on a cross to Obafemi Martins on the counter.
Kansas City (0-1-0) controlled much of the first half, but a Dom Dwyer shot in the 33rd minute, parried away by goalkeeper Stefan Frei, was as close as the visitors came to the back of the net. Jacob Peterson stepped into the rebound, but sent his volley over the crossbar.
“I thought we played very well,” said Kansas City head coach Peter Vermes. “Coming in here, this is not an easy place to play being the first game of the season and their home opener. I thought we played very well for 93 minutes and 43 seconds. We did a really good job on both sides. Defensively we were very disciplined. We had one lapse in our defensive shape overall, and that was in the last 17 seconds. It’s unfortunate.”
“Shutouts were a little harder to come by at the end of last year than they normally are for our team,” said Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid, “so I was pleased with that. I was pleased we played them to zero and pleased we came out with the victory.”
Seattle pressed throughout the second half, but couldn’t convert until the 94th and final minute of stoppage time against a Kansas City side resting Chance Myers, Oriol Rosell, and Seth Sinovic ahead of a midweek CONCACAF Champions League match.
Looking forward, Seattle hosts Toronto FC on Saturday, while Sporting KC hosts Cruz Azul in CCL play on Wednesday and FC Dallas on Saturday.
Think the Sounders have put last season’s demons behind them already, or should they have won more convincingly against a shorthanded opponent? Worried about Sporting KC, or think they showed well with the roster at their disposal?
Share your thoughts below.