The Seattle Sounders (12-9-5, 41 points) said goodbye to USMNT and Club legend Clint Dempsey one more time before the game and the stroll down memory lane created a euphoric state that lingered with the players longer that Seattle Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer would have liked.
While the Sounders and their fans were imagining life without Dempsey, Sporting KC ( 13-7-6, 45 points) played the role of rude guests by taking a 1-0 lead two minutes into the game. KC forward Diego Rubio collected an errant ball inside the Sounders 18-yard- box and blasted home a right footed shot that beat Sounder goalkeeper Stefan Frei.
“That wasn’t unlucky. We weren’t ready for what they brought. They lined up on the kickoff with five guys to come and press us”, said Schmetzer after the game .” We needed to say, ‘Okay, here they come.’ You know Peter Vermes is a great coach, and he gets his teams fired up. We should have realized that. Those first two minutes, they put us under pressure. That’s all on me. That’s all on me. I need to make sure that the team was ready for a playoff-type game. We, the coaching staff, talked about it. That’s on us. And it won’t happen again.”
What did happen was the Sounders ability to regroup and stay focused on the task at hand rather than play the blame game and get down on each other. The result of a determined home side was an equalizer goal by forward Raul Ruidiaz ten minutes later.
Seattle left back Brad Smith streak down the left flank and left-footed a cross that found the wide open Ruidiaz for the one-touch tap-in equalizer. After going into the halftime deadlocked at one-all, Schmetzer switched to a high press to start the second half in hopes of pressuring Sporting into some mistakes. The result was more ball possession for the Sounders which put the Sporting defense on the backfoot and in panic mood.
The pressure proved too much for the visitors as Harry Shipp’s shot in the 52 minute bounced of Sporting defender Graham Zusi back and into the back of Sporting goal to give the Sounders a 2-1 lead. The Sounders fortunes continued four minutes when Seattle was awarded a penalty due to a hand ball by Sporting defender Ike Opara.
Sounder midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro converted the spot kick and the result was a 3-1 lead for the home side. It was Lodeiro’s seventh goal of the season. For Schmetzer the Sounders created the chances that lead to their fortunes.
“Look, you make your own luck as well. Let’s be honest, we let a center back dribble down the middle of the field and Stef (Frei) had to come up with a massive save. Is that luck? Should (Ike Opara) have scored? We make our own luck with Stef working hard in training every day, and that bounce goes our way. That group in there is starting to make their own luck. Yes, we were a bit unlucky during the beginning of the year. I’m not going to deny that. But I do think in the overall, full season it does even out. Now, Harry Shipp is a guy who is making his own luck. He’s come on and done great. So, credit to him. Kim Kee-hee against Portland, you can say that was lucky, sure, but he put the ball in a dangerous spot. Harry was trying to put the ball in a dangerous spot. When you put pressure on opponents, good things happen.”
The Sounders played the last nine minutes of the game with 10 men after referee Baldomero Toledo used video review to issue a straight red card to Sounder defender Chad Marshall for a serious challenge on Sporting forward Johnny Russell.
- Sounders FC is now 12-9-5 on the season, and currently sits above the red line at fourth in the Western Conference with 41 points. Brian Schmetzer’s side is level with Real Salt Lake on 41 points and 12 wins, but ahead of the Utah side via the goals scored tiebreaker.
- With eight matches remaining in the 2018 regular season, Seattle is just five points out of first place in the West.
- Sounders FC extends its club record to eight consecutive wins, setting a new single-season league record in the post-shootout era (since 2000). Seattle surpasses Sporting Kansas City’s previous record, which was seven straight to start the 2012 campaign.
- The result extends Seattle’s unbeaten streak to 11 games (9-0-2), dating back to July 4 at Colorado. The run is the longest spell without a loss this season, and is the club’s second-longest unbeaten streak in club history. The longest unbeaten streak in club history is 13 games (6-0-7) from June 21-September 23 of last season.
- Raúl Ruidíaz scored his third goal of the season, and second in his last three games. Seattle today improved to 7-0-0 in games in which he starts, and 3-0-0 in games in which he scores.
- Lodeiro’s goal was his team-leading seventh strike of the season. He has now recorded six goals and seven assists in his last 12 games dating back to June 30.
- Sounders FC is now 9-5-4 all-time against Sporting Kansas City in MLS regular season play, including a 5-2-2 record at CenturyLink Field.
- On the season, Sounders FC is now 7-4-2 at home, earning 23 of its 41 points at CenturyLink Field. The club has four regular-season home matches remaining in 2018.
- Seattle has allowed one goal or fewer in each of the club’s 11 matches during the current unbeaten run, and its 27 goals allowed is the second-fewest in MLS this season.