So that happened. Wee! What a way to kick off a season. I'll always take an away win, especially in a place like Seattle, where Sporting have had little to no luck. Kansas City had traveled to Seattle six times previously and recorded only one win, with only two goals. Two other results were draws, meaning that Sporting had taken just five points from six matches, scoring just once every three games. In fact, in all matches, home or away, in which Sporting have played the Sounders, no team has won a match by more than one goal.
New turf combined with poor weather made me think this was going to be a pretty sloppy match and Sporting would do well to minimize mistakes and come away with a point, so I was needless to say thrilled when Coelho's 30 yard strike slipped under a diving Stefan Frei. Having watched it a few times now I have to think Frei was anticipating more of a bounce, and the combination of new turf and soggy conditions meant the ball didn't hop like he thought, but rather just sort of skidded and plodded it's way underneath him into the back of the net. In any case, I'll take it, and what a debut for Nuno. Perhaps most impressive was that the goal came off of a very patient 30 pass sequence for Sporting.
The 30 passes that led to Nuno Coelho's goal for @SportingKC: pic.twitter.com/R6BkLEji3Y— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) March 7, 2016
For the first twenty or so minutes, I thought Seattle looked the better team, perhaps their CCL matches giving them a little more time to become coherent than SKC had. The absence of Benny Feilhaber and Brad Davis was also initially worrying, but after weathering the start of the match, Sporting did a good job in slowing the game down and frustrating Seattle's attacks.
Tim Melia was only forced into two saves, but they were big ones, both diving efforts that kept Sporting in the match.
So how does that all shake out rating wise? Let's take a look. And the usual reminder, I use a match and stats for this and do very little manipulation myself, only stepping in to tinker with a number if/when someone performs in a way that isn't captured by a statistical metric. So these ratings are not necessarily ones that I 100% agree with, but serve as a good springboard for thoughts and discussion.
|Seattle Sounders FC
|Sporting Kansas City
|Nuno Andre Coelho||9.0|
So it goes perhaps without saying that Nuno Andre Coelho was the Man-of-the-Match, in keeping a clean sheet and scoring the game winner. Honorable has to go to Tim Melia, who, like I said, "only" made two saves, but may well be credited with two goals himself.
Another stray thought was Dom had both a great game and not so great. Some of his touches were incredible, like when he sent Hallisey through on goal early in the first half, but he appeared to disappear at times as well. That said at times he really was playing the lone striker stuck on an island for a lot of the match. While he got rated somewhat low, I'm excited to see how he performs this year given the exit of Nemeth.
And I guess to weigh in on the red card to Oniel Fisher... Who even defends that kind of tackle? If that's only given a "yellow" you'll have players going in two feet stubs up half a dozen times a game. I'm all for "letting them play", but that sort of dangerous tackle, even if only minimal or no contact is made, can be career ending. Red was the referee's only option.