SEATTLE—Sporting Kansas City’s new center back, it turns out, has some attacking chops.


Nuno Andre Coelho – the Portuguese defender brought in this offseason to inject some veteran pedigree into SKC’s backline – scored the game-deciding goal in the 73rd minute of his MLS debut against the Seattle Sounders on Sunday, helping his team earn a 1-0, season-opening road victory at CenturyLink Field.


Overall, it wasn't a bad first impression by Coelho on the likes of Sporting KC head coach Peter Vermes.


“[Coelho] has actually done that since he’s been with us a little,” Vermes said. “He likes to go forward, which is a good thing. Comes unmarked and hits a great ball.”


Coelho’s shot will certainly haunt the nightmares of Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei, who looked in position to make a save that would have preserved the scoreless tie. But the elements worked in Kansas City’s favor: The ball took a wicked bounce off the rain-soaked turf and squirted into the Seattle net.


“I think it was a very tough ball because, at that point, the rain came and the ball really skidded off the turf,” Vermes said.


SKC were the beneficiaries of a first-half red card to Seattle defender Oniel Fisher, who was immediately tossed by referee Alan Kelly for a dangerous, flying two-footed challenge on Connor Hallisey.


Either way, SKC goalkeeper Tim Melia and his backline will happily take Sunday’s clean sheet, given the treacherous weather and the adjustment of playing on a new and unfamiliar CenturyLink surface.


“It is a new turf and it was some of the better turf that I’ve seen,” Melia said. “But once it gets a little moist, the ball skips off it a little bit, you don’t trust the bounce. It causes problems.”


The result gives SKC a big victory over a Cascadia opponent and they’ll look to continue that run when they return home to take on the Vancouver Whitecaps next Saturday.


“Listen, in this league, whenever you can get a win anywhere, it’s huge,” Vermes said. “I’ve always said this is a tough place to play. I’ve known Sigi for a long time. We go way back together. He’s a very good manager, does a great job with the team, they’re always well organized. They’re a difficult team, so getting this result in the first game of the season is big points for us, no doubt.”

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