Sporting Kansas City faced off with the Seattle Sounders with first place in the Western Conference on the line as the season winds to a close. The game did not go as planned.
Sporting KC lined up with 10 of the same 11 players as last time out against Minnesota United when they won 4-0. The only change was Gadi Kinda in for Cam Duke. Alan Pulido remained out and Remi Walter returned to the bench from his knee injury.
Our XI for #SKCvSEA #SportingKC | @BlueKC pic.twitter.com/mPO0bbPkhM— Sporting Kansas City (@SportingKC) September 26, 2021
The Sounders put out a decently strong lineup considering all the games they’ve played over the last few weeks.
Our @Delta Starting XI!— Seattle Sounders FC (@SoundersFC) September 26, 2021
https://t.co/BF29yDIwyk | #SKCvSEA pic.twitter.com/mLRkfSxUNc
The game played out early as was to be expected. Seattle sat really deep and looked to counter and Sporting had trouble breaking down the bunker. On several occasions I could see Khiry Shelton off the ball simply not making the kinds of runs need to break down the defense. He plays really hard, the killer instinct just isn’t there. It left SKC with just five shots in the first half, none on target.
The first breakthrough unfortunately came for Seattle. They had just pressed on a counter attack and Tim Melia was trying to push the ball out quickly to get into that rare empty space. However, his throw to Graham Zusi was too heavy and left Zusi struggling to reach the ball. He ultimately saved it from going out of bounds but that left it for Seattle’s Brad Smith who appeared to accidently play it off his own hand but ultimately delivered a cross on the ground to Cristian Roldan who blasted a shot that trickled past Tim Melia to make it 1-0.
Great pass.— Seattle Sounders FC (@SoundersFC) September 26, 2021
Great finish. @bradsmith_94 finds @CristianRoldan for the 1-0 lead! #SoundersMatchday | #SKCvSEA pic.twitter.com/x21WbMAZy1
Raul Ruidiaz almost made it wo with a dangerous header but that’s how the first half would end.
The second half came out and Sporting Kansas City were a team on fire. They kept Seattle under constant pressure early with several dangerous balls into the box including a corner kick that led to an Ilie Sanchez shot that may have only been pushed off the post by a Seattle defender deflection.
Then, out of nothing, Seattle found a second goal. Graham Zusi wins a great tackle on Smith deep in SKC’s half and plays a casual pass to the middle but the FS1 replays are unclear who the ball was to. It settles in between Jose Mauri and Ilie Sanchez and goes to neither and instead Seattle picks it up. Ruidiaz tries to chip Melia who gets a touch but Ilie has a half-clearance in the panic and Will Bruin weekly heads the ball to the backpost and in. 2-0 Seattle.
WHOA @wbruin scores his second goal of the season! #SoundersMatchday | #SKCvSEA pic.twitter.com/XuC67fXIaB— Seattle Sounders FC (@SoundersFC) September 27, 2021
Sporting KC would quickly find an answer though. Shelton got taken down for what felt like the 10th time of the night but finally earned a foul call. Luis Martins floated in a ball on the set piece which found it’s way to to Johnny Russell who drilled a shot off the keeper and in to make it 1-2.
GAME ON! @SportingKC answer right back with a goal of their own pic.twitter.com/lqr7hgdLQF— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) September 27, 2021
From there SKC had several quality attacks that came to nothing but corners. One breakaway Shelton was screaming up the right side of the attack and an early ball in would have been a tap in for Daniel Salloi but Shelton instead tried to beat his man and it led to a corner.
Then Seattle, who surprising stopped sitting so deep, despite having a lead, were all over SKC. They had several quality chances, the best being another SKC turnover, this time but Luis Martins, to Ruidiaz in the box who somehow failed to score even though he was one-on-one with Tim Melia.
Sporting came roaring back the other way with Russell towing the end line and putting in a dangerous cross that just sat in the box after Stephan Frei got a hand to it and left it for anyone to tap home... but Seattle cleared it for a corner.
From there, Sporting just ran out of gas. Graham Zusi picked up a late yellow card and will be suspended next time out.
Final Score: 2-1 Seattle.