The Seattle Sounders continued their tradition of opening the MLS season at home, hosting Sporting Kansas City on Sunday evening. This was a highly anticipated match with the MLS debut of Jordan Morris for Seattle, but the fans would ultimately go home disappointed. SKC took home a 1-0 victory after Sounders fill-in fullback Oniel Fisher put Seattle at 10 men with a dangerous red-card tackle in the 41st minute.
Most of the match was slow and methodical from both sides, with most of the possession in the midfield. On paper, it was a matchup of two great goalkeepers, Tim Melia for Sporting Kansas City, who had a breakout year in 2014, and Stefan Frei, who is the long-established keeper for the Sounders and has been the league's most efficient over the last few seasons.
Seattle controlled the first 15 minutes of the game and had two thirds of the possession in the opening moments. Melia made two great saves, the first on a Clint Dempsey free kick and the latter on the ensuing corner.
That would be followed by a chance for Connor Hallisey due to lazy defending by the Sounders, but ultimately Frei would bail Seattle out. When the Sounders attacked, they kept attempting to drive through the middle of the Sporting defense, and rarely were able to take the ball to the flanks.
Both Dempsey and Morris had to retreat to the midfield for Seattle to receive the ball in the first half while Sporting kept the ball there despite the Kansas City midfielders appearing nonexistent.
Fisher Sent Off For Seattle
The game changed just before half time, when Oniel Fisher was sent off for a launched two footed tackle on Connor Hallisey. It was a hard tackle that could’ve been a lot more damaging to Hallisey if there had been more contact on him. The referees have been told to crack down in multiple areas this season including hard tackles.
That moment in the match absolutely swung the momentum to Kansas City.
KC Takes Control
Sporting came out strong in the second half, which was to be expected after gaining a man-up advantage. Despite sitting back and defending, Seattle had their only good chance of the second period only seven minutes, with a wicked shot by Andreas Ivanschitz that just was tipped off the bar by Melia.
About halfway through the final 45, the rain started pouring down at CenturyLink Field and the game picked up as well. Roger Espinoza found two good chances in the 64th and the 65th minutes, but the breakthrough wouldn't come until nearly ten minutes later.
Nuno Coelho, who hadn’t played a game since November of 2014, took a shot from just outside the box in the 73rd, it bounced and went up under Frei and into the back of the net. Frei was visibly upset, because Seattle had defended honorably up to that point, and that was all for nothing after giving up a cheap goal which should not have gone in.
The rest of the game was fairly calm, but the Sounders would have another disastrous moment, when Brad Evans fell over the top of Dom Dwyer on a header, landing hard on his shoulder and having to come off the pitch in result.
Seattle will hope that their captain will be okay, as they have a tough matchup next Saturday against Real Salt Lake. Sporting Kansas City will take on a red hot Toronto FC in their home opener next week.