All it takes to drop points in Major League Soccer is one split-second lapse. The Wizards learned that lesson the hard way against the Sounders on Saturday afternoon at Qwest Field.
After controlling much the game’s preceding 90 minutes, Seattle substitute Michael Fucito snuck behind the Kansas City back line in stoppage time, running onto Brad Evan’s throw-in and sending a half-volley past a helpless Jimmy Nielsen to give the Sounders a 1-0 victory.
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“The crazy thing is that we talked about them on throw-ins and what they try to do,” manager Peter Vermes told MLSsoccer.com over the phone. “We had a lapse there. We got relaxed at a very crucial time in the game, and they punished us for it.”
In a match that seemed destined to end in a 0-0 draw that would have flattered Seattle in many ways, the result was especially disappointing considering Kansas City was a few minutes away from its third shutout as well as a well-earned result on the road.
For Vermes, it was especially frustrating to see his team play so well and yet come away empty-handed. Though Seattle had a legitimate argument for a penalty kick in the 73rd minute when Tyrone Marshall was dragged down in the box, Kansas City was the more consistently dangerous team throughout but failed to finish its chances.
“We deserved to come out of here if not with three points -- because there were opportunities for three points -- but at least one,” Vermes said. “That’s a disappointing thing because the guys played intelligently.”
Deserving or not, Kansas City will go home with nothing. Despite that, the Wizards can be consoled by the fact they didn’t wait for the Sounders to drive the pace and tempo of the game.
Vermes’ team was active from the start, using high pressure to keep Seattle off balance and out of its possession game. As the Wizards predicted, the large and boisterous crowd gave the players a spark and showed a sneak peak as to the mindset home teams are likely to see from Kansas City all season long.
“We didn’t come here to sit and just be a spectator and bunker in,” Vermes said. “We came to play, and for the majority of the game, we went after them.”
Kansas City had nine corner kicks to Seattle’s two, and consistently turned the Sounders over in dangerous places on the field, especially in the first half. Ryan Smith and Kei Kamara were handfuls for most of the night, but the Wizards never found a way to put together enough clear-cut scoring opportunities, finishing with only two shots on goal.
The Wizards played most of the game without defender Jimmy Conrad after the veteran was forced to leave in the 32nd minute with what Vermes said was likely a calf or hamstring strain. Matt Besler entered to partner first-time starter Pablo Escobar in the center of defense, and Kansas City didn’t miss a beat, only allowing two shots on goal and five overall to one of the most dangerous attacking sides in the league.
“The compactness throughout the game was excellent,” Vermes said. “Our line was very good, as far as keeping it tight in the back.”
But in one split-second, Fucito undid that hard work, wriggling in behind the Wizards back line to snatch a point from the visitors, negating what was otherwise a solid performance by the visitors.
“The game is 90-some odd minutes long every time you play,” Vermes said. “That’s something we will have to deal with.”