MLS Soccer — Sporting KC and Seattle Sounders FC battle to a frosty 2-2
Sporting Kansas City match against Seattle Sounders took place in freezing weather amidst light snow flurries with more than 18,500 dedicated soccer fans cheering — reflecting the depth of passion in the city of KC. Neither coach was happy with the 2-2 result but as Seattle Sounders FC head coach Brian Schmetzer says, “But that’s how MLS is.”
Soccer News: Sporting Kansas City (4-1-2, 14 points) went four points clear at the top of the Western Conference following a 2-2 draw with Seattle Sounders FC (0-3-1, 1 point) on Sunday afternoon at frigid Children’s Mercy Park.
After the match, Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes said “Well, I thought we gave up a silly goal to end the half. And then we had a broken play where we give up our second goal. They were two opportunistic goals on their part.”
“Credit to them and shame on us,” said Vermes.
“I think that we gave up two very soft goals tonight. One was a lack of concentration. The other one was poor decisions all the way around,” added Vermes. “It’s good we fought back but I would also say that we weren’t at our best tonight, for whatever reason I don’t know. We’ll have to evaluate that.”
“There’s no doubt the group has an attitude of being able to come back from being down. They don’t get upset with being down and give up. They’re good in that regard and we’ve got to keep going. But we should have been better throughout the game not to be in that position, said Vermes who was clearly disappointed with the results.
Seattle Sounders FC head coach Brian Schmetzer said, “I’m not happy. We should have won the game. But that’s how MLS is. You’ve got to credit Graham Zusi for making a play at the end there. I thought that we put enough into the game that we could have come out with the full three points. We out-dueled them, which was good. They out-possessed us, obviously. Peter Vermes has them playing at a high level. Still, I think we left something out there. Even so, for the guys that put in all of that effort and all of that work – it stings a little bit. But it gives them some good incentive for the next game.”
“This is a very tough place to play so coming out of here with a point is a point well taken,” said Schmetzer.
Sporting Kansas City midfielder Roger Espinoza said, “When we went up 1-0, we had a chance to lock it down at the end of the first half. Them tying it up at the end of the first half gave them a little hope and gave them a little revival I would say. And they came back in the second half with a lot more spirit.”
“Every time that we don’t get three points at home is disappointing for us,” said Sporting Kansas City midfielder Ilie.”We have to get better and play how we normally do. I think that with this way we can get three points next time.”
This was also a breakthrough match for Seattle Sounders FC rookie Alex Roldan who enjoyed his first start in the MLS.
“We started off a little slow and gave the PK away. This is a tough place to play so you can’t come out of the bat like that,” said Roldan. “I thought our resolve was well. We came out and answered just before the half to get one back. I think that really gave us the motivation going into the second half.”
Seattle Sounders’ Will Bruin’s well-timed and hard-fought goal on the cusp of halftime lifted up his team.
Roldan said, “It gave us energy. We knew that we could compete with this team and that it wasn’t going to be easy but we still could compete. We knew we could come out with a lot of energy and hopefully get another one back.”
Here is the Soccer Action Recap from Sporting KC:
Ilie’s 34th-minute penalty kick gave Sporting KC the lead before Will Bruin bagged Seattle’s first goal of the season on the stroke of halftime to level proceedings.
The Sounders surged ahead on Cristian Roldan’s strike in the 73rd minute, but Graham Zusi restored parity five minutes later as Sporting KC extended its unbeaten run to six matches and kept Seattle winless in 2018.
Sunday’s affair was the coldest regular season home game in Kansas City history, with temperatures at 32 degrees when the clubs kicked off before a nationally televised audience on ESPN. The 2-2 stalemate marked just the second time in 17 regular-season meetings that Sporting KC and Seattle combined to score more than three goals.
The hosts, one week removed from a 2-0 road win over the LA Galaxy, fielded an unchanged lineup as Sporting KC’s top goal scorer Felipe Gutierrez missed his second straight match with a hip ailment. His absence did little to prevent a strong start from Manager Peter Vermes’ men on Sunday, as Johnny Russell was first to threaten with a clever touch past a defender before volleying high in the 14th minute.
Seven different players have scored a goal for Sporting KC this season, and Khiry Shelton nearly became the eighth with 23 minutes on the clock. The forward collected a cutback pass from Daniel Salloi only to see his close-range effort repelled by Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei. Shortly thereafter, Russell attacked a looping cross from Yohan Croizet and sent a powerful header marginally wide of Frei’s right-hand post.
Referee Drew Fischer awarded Sporting KC a penalty kick near the half-hour mark when Russell accelerated into the box from the right wing and was chopped to the turf by Nouhou Tolo. Ilie stepped to the spot to bury the ensuing penalty high into the roof of the net, recording his second goal of the campaign.
Seattle manufactured an important equalizer on the final play of the half, but not before Bruin’s header off a Nicolas Lodeiro free-kick rattled the crossbar and was subsequently cleared by Ike Opara in second-half stoppage time. On the play that followed, Sounders defender Chad Marshall flicked Lodeiro’s long throw-in goalward where Bruin was lurking to slot home from point-blank range.
The strike broke Seattle’s 315-minute scoreless drought to start the 2018 campaign and ended Sporting KC’s shutout streak at 306 minutes dating back to March 24.
A tense second half produced its first flashpoint moment on 51 minutes when defender Jimmy Medranda cut the ball onto his weaker right foot and forced Frei into a diving stop at the near post. Seven minutes later, the Sounders thought they had won a penalty kick when Jordan McCrary’s low cross from the right wing ricocheted off Medranda’s leg and struck his elbow. Upon further review prompted by Video Assistant Referee Geoff Gamble, Fischer overturned the call and Seattle was denied its penalty kick opportunity.
Both teams survived close scares with 20 minutes remaining. Opara latched onto a Zusi set piece and snapped a header straight at Frei before Alex Roldan – the younger brother of Cristian and making his first career MLS start – unleashed a long-range blast that skimmed inches wide of the woodwork.
The visitors went in front on 73 minutes with a fluid attack downfield following a Sporting KC giveaway. Bruin raced onto Alex Roldan’s long ball and picked out Cristian Roldan at the top of the box, allowing the U.S. international to rifle home from 18 yards and temporarily silence the Children’s Mercy Park faithful.
Seattle’s 2-1 lead lasted just five minutes, as Sporting KC’s outside backs combined for an impressive equalizer in the 78th minute. Zusi settled Medranda’s high-arching diagonal pass on the right channel, burst into the box and chipped Frei from four yards out to tally his second goal of the year and his 31st for the club in all competitions.
Vermes’ side went agonizingly close to securing all three points in the 83rd minute, but Ilie’s header off Zusi’s lovely set-piece delivery lacked the direction to beat Frei.
MATCH Line Up:
Sporting Kansas City: Tim Melia; Graham Zusi, Ike Opara, Matt Besler (C), Jimmy Medranda; Roger Espinoza, Ilie, Yohan Croizet (Cristian Lobato 74); Johnny Russell (Gerso Fernandes 85), Khiry Shelton, Daniel Salloi
Subs Not Used: Adrian Zendejas, Emiliano Amor, Jaylin Lindsey, Seth Sinovic, Diego Rubio
Seattle Sounders FC: Stefan Frei; Jordan McCrary, Roman Torres, Chad Marshall, Nouhou Tolo; Gustav Svensson, Cristian Roldan, Handwalla Bwana (Osvaldo Alonso 68), Nicolas Lodeiro (C), Alex Roldan (Magnus Wolff Eikrem); Will Bruin
Subs Not Used: Bryan Meredith, Tony Alfaro, Jordy Delem, Henry Wingo, Lamar Neagle
Sporting KC will put their six-match unbeaten streak on the line Friday when third-place Vancouver Whitecaps FC (3-3-1, 10 points) visits Children’s Mercy Park for an 8 p.m. CT kickoff on FOX Sports Kansas City Plus and FOX Sports Midwest Plus.
Photo Credit: Diane Scavuzzo
Source: Press Release