SEATTLE — Major League Soccer’s regular season opener wasn’t quite as pretty as anyone would have hoped, but the Seattle Sounders certainly aren’t complaining.
Second-half substitute Chad Barrett scored a scrappy stoppage-time winner to give his team a hard-fought 1-0 win over defending MLS Cup champions Sporting Kansas City on Saturday at CenturyLink Field.
Barrett’s goal – which marked the fifth time in four years that the Sounders (1-0-0) have scored a late goal to beat Sporting KC (0-1-0) – came on a goalmouth scramble that featured Clint Dempsey hitting a header off the crossbar after a cross from Homegrown midfielder Sean Okoli. The ball came to Barrett, who followed up another Dempsey shot and got just enough of it to put the ball in the back of the net for his first game-winning goal since 2011.
Until Barrett’s goal, the match was destined to be remembered for its rough-and-tumble appearance and two of the league’s most notoriously physical players nearly sent to the showers. There were 40 total fouls committed – 25 against the Sounders, a franchise record – and five yellow cards given out, including one each for SKC defender Aurelien Collin and Seattle midfielder Osvaldo Alonso. Both narrowly avoided red cards from referee Alan Kelly during the match.
Sloppy as it may have been at times, there were no shortage of chances. The Sounders pressed for the winner much of the second half, with the best chance coming in the 53rd minute when defender DeAndre Yedlin slipped midfielder Lamar Neagle behind the Kansas City backline.
Neagle dribbled deep into the penalty area and ripped a low shot that found its way through SKC goalkeeper Eric Kronberg and into the path of a charging Obafemi Martins, but the striker was unable to get a touch on the bouncing ball before it was cleared.
Yedlin was also in the middle of a good scoring chance in the first half when he was able to control a ball at midfield and race down the sideline. Yedlin picked out Kenny Cooper, who was streaking into the box. Cooper chose to hit it first time, and the shot was saved by a diving Kronberg.
Sporting KC looked up to the task in the first half, despite missing four regular starters. The visitors got the first big chance of the match when Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei was unable to handle Graham Zusi’s shot from about 25 yards out in the third minute. The rebound came out to Dom Dwyer, but Frei was able to come off his line and shut down the angle before a clean shot could be taken.
Jacob Peterson found himself on the end of another rebound in the 33rd minute after a shot by Dwyer was saved by Frei, but he was unable to control the ball and his shot went well over the crossbar.
Dwyer again had a dangerous chance in the 36th minute, but his shot from the left side took a deflection off and went just wide. Dwyer had one final look in stoppage time, but his shot from about 16 yards out was deflected and went wide.
Sporting KC return to action on Wednesday in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League against Mexican side Cruz Azul, while the Sounders host Toronto FC in regular-season action on March 15.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Benny Feilhaber||Picked up where he left off last season. Arguably steadiest player on the field.|
|2||Chad Marshall||Instant impact for Schmid's old friend. Sounders fans will love this guy.|
|3||DeAndre Yedlin||Impressive stuff all-around, and still fantastic when he gets forward.|