SEATTLE — The talk all offseason was about how the Seattle Sounders had remade their locker room. How that would manifest was always a bit of a mystery.
One game is, of course, just one game, but Saturday’s victory over defending MLS Cup champion Sporting Kansas City seems to have been a mini-referendum. Despite playing a sloppy and at times disjointed match, the Sounders managed to find the winner on a scrambling goal by Chad Barrett in the dying minutes.
“That’s something we talked about,” captain Brad Evans told reporters. “Staying together and working and fighting. No complaining, no moaning, just working until the 90th minute. If we do that, the results will come our way. Our best soccer is yet to come. Once that happens, we’ll find ourselves on the right side of results more often than not.”
The winning play was particularly indicative of that fighting spirit.
It all started in the Sounders’ defensive end, with Dylan Remick's pressure forcing a loose pass. Osvaldo Alonso, who had a particularly strong performance in the second half, picked it off and got the break started the other way.
After dribbling through the midfield, Alonso fed Clint Dempsey, who then sent it to rookie Sean Okoli on the right side. Okoli’s cross wasn’t perfect, but was dangerous enough that it allowed Obafemi Martins to occupy two defenders and goalkeeper Eric Kronberg. Despite not getting a piece of the ball, it was Martins’ effort that ultimately cleared the path to goal. All Barrett had to do was basically clean up the mess.
“He took about four guys out including the keeper,” Barrett said. “Clint kept it alive and the ball just fell to me.”
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The hope now is that the Sounders are able to take these lessons and keep them throughout the year.
“You have to have that if you want to win something,” Dempsey said. “It’s still early days, but getting a goal in injury time does show that you’re fighting to the end, but it’s a long season.
"I think your true character shows over time and I think it’s clawing your way back after conceding goals and also it’s being able to get goals in the final few minutes and hopefully we can do that this season.”