Top and bottom of the table does not matter when Sporting Kansas City and the Seattle Sounders face each other. A struggling Seattle team challenge the Western Conference leaders and earned their first goals and point of the season.
Russell made his intentions known early in the match. He warmed up the crowd in the 14’ min with a juggle around a defender to set himself up for a vicious volley that soared over the bar.
It was in the 24’ minute when Sporting KC really began to expose the crack in the Seattle defense. Daniel Salloi beat Román Torres in the box and crossed it to Shelton right in front of goal. The striker, clearly lacking confidence, was unable to beat Stefan Frei from point blank range.
Johnny Russell had seen enough by the 33’ minute and made one of his patented runs into the box. He was able to touch the ball around a really desperate sliding challenge from Nouhou Tolo. The defender missed the ball, sent Russell flying, and had no complaints when the referee pointed to the spot for a penalty. Ilie grabbed the ball once again and confidently fired it into the net for the 1-0 lead.
The chill would return to the stadium with the final kick of the first half. A foul on the edge of the box set up a dangerous set piece. Will Bruin headed the ball off the post and it was cleared for a Seattle throw in. They quickly launched it back into the box and it was flicked in front of the goal. This time, Bruin cleaned up the mess. The Sounders had their first goal of the season and brought the match level at 1-1.
The second half was much more open as the visitors returned from the locker room with a pep in their step. They were briefly awarded a penalty kick int he 58’ min when a cross hit the arm of Jimmy Medranda. But VAR was put to good use and the call was reversed after further review.
The Sounders continued to show signs of life and were rewarded in the 73’ minute off a well worked counter attack. Bruin took the ball into the final third and waited long enough for Cristian Roldan to join the attack. He rolled it over to Roldan who picked his corner and sent it passed a diving Melia for the 2-1 advantage.
Sporting KC would not let a lead from Seattle last very long. Just five minutes after conceding they drew level. Medranda sent Graham Zusi down the right wing with a gorgeous long ball across the field. Zusi was given too much space and took the ball all the way into the six yard box. With Shelton looming in front of goal, Zusi lifted the ball over Frei at the very last moment to bring the match level.
Chances continued for SKC into as the match came to a close and they really should have had a winner a couple of times. But after a frantic, lengthy stoppage time the final whistle was blown.
As matches between these teams always seem to be, it was a frustrating afternoon at Children’s Mercy Park. Sporting take a point on the day but were looking to take full advantage of a depleted Sounders team sitting in last place. The full highlights are below.
Kansas City is still four points clear atop the Western Conference with 14 points. They are in action again Friday night at home against the Whitecaps.