Sporting Kansas City stretched the club's unbeaten streak to five games with a scoreless draw at Seattle on Saturday and became the first team to hold the Sounders scoreless at CenturyLink Field in 2015. Anchored by captain Matt Besler, Sporting Kansas City's defense allowed only one shot on goal - Seattle's fewest at home in the past three seasons - for the team's fifth clean sheet of the year.
The Sounders attack was led by U.S. Men's National Team captain Clint Dempsey, whose seven goals and five assists rank him in the top three among MLS players to date. However, the Designated Player's streak of 10 straight MLS matches with a goal or assist was snapped one shy of the all-time league record.
Saturday's scoreless first half saw the Sporting Kansas City defense hold the Sounders without a shot on goal despite Seattle controlling 69 percent of the game's possession. The lone attempt on target in the opening 45 minutes came came mid-way through the half off the foot of Jacob Peterson. The 10-year MLS veteran struck a shot from distance that deflected off Brad Evans and was eventually smothered by Stefan Frei in the 23rd minute.
Seattle's best two scoring opportunities in the first half came in short succession. Gonzalo Pineda's cross connected with Lamar Neagle in the 32nd minute but his header from the penalty spot bounced wide of the far post. Four minutes later, Brad Evans intercepted a pass in his own end and dribbled forward more than 50 yards only to send his shot whistling wide.
The two sides entered their Week 12 match-up tied as the top scoring teams in Major League Soccer and chances continued to come throughout the second half, including an early miss by the Sounders less than 30 seconds after kickoff. Pineda played Neagle behind the Sporting KC backline, however his early effort rolled beyond the far post.
Sporting Kansas City responded in the 51st minute by testing Frei with his second save of the match. Amadou Dia worked his way up the left flank and delivered an accurate service into the penalty area for Peterson, who snapped his header downward but straight into the arms of the Sounders goalkeeper.
However, minutes later Peterson was forced off due to injury for an already shorthanded Sporting KC squad that was playing the team's second game in four days without seven starters (Roger Espinoza, Ike Opara, Marcel de Jong, Seth Sinovic, Chance Myers, Dom Dwyer, Paulo Nagamura). Manager Peter Vermes dressed only five substitutes after Dwyer was a gametime scratch - missing his first match of the year - and he once again played all three of the team's first round picks from the 2015 MLS SuperDraft.
Dwyer's replacement in the starting lineup was 21-year-old Jimmy Medranda and the Colombian nearly capitalized on his fifth career start with a left-footed shot in the 57th minute that curled narrowly past the post. Moments later he made way for rookie Saad Abdul-Salaam, who was recalled from his loan with the San Antonio Scorpions (NASL) on Tuesday before making his MLS debut the next day.
The Sounders' lone shot on goal in Saturday's draw wouldn't come until the 82nd minute in the aftermath of a free kick taken by Tyrone Mears. The delivery was headed away by Besler only to be put back into danger thanks to a bicycle kick from Evans near the top of the 18-yard box. Chad Barrett - who scored the 94th-minute game-winner against Sporting KC in his Seattle debut a year ago and was coming off a two-goal performance last weekend -re-directed the ball's path with a first-time volley from eight yards out that was smothered by Tim Melia.
Second half stoppage time had proven to be an Achilles heel for Sporting KC in the series history - conceding five game-winning goals after the 90th minute in the last seven meetings with Seattle - but the club nearly flipped the script on Saturday. Benny Feilhaber picked up a pass from Krisztian Nemeth and struck a dipping shot from distance that required a sprawling save by Frei to preserve the clean sheet.
Sporting Kansas City currently sits in sole possession of fourth place in the Western Conference standings, three points back of leaders FC Dallas. The two teams will meet at 8 p.m. CT on Friday, May 29 at Sporting Park in a marquee match that will be nationally televised on UniMas and locally broadcast on KMCI-TV 38 the Spot. A limited number of tickets are available via Ticketmaster.com and the first 10,000 fans inside the stadium will receive a Sporting KC t-shirt courtesy of Mazuma Credit Union.
Major League Soccer
Regular Season: Game 12
CenturyLink Field | Seattle, WA
Weather: 63 degrees and cloudy
|Sporting KC (4-2-6, 18 pts)||0||0||0|
|Seattle Sounders FC (6-3-2, 20 pts)||0||0||0|
Sporting Kansas City: Tim Melia; Jalil Anibaba, Matt Besler (c), Kevin Ellis, Amadou Dia; Soni Mustivar, Servando Carrasco (Graham Zusi 77), Benny Feilhaber; Jimmy Medranda (Saad Abdul-Salaam 58) , Krisztian Nemeth, Jacob Peterson (Connor Hallisey 56)
Subs Not Used: Luis Marin, James Rogers
Seattle Sounders FC: Stefan Frei; Tyrone Mears, Brad Evans, Chad Marshall, Dylan Remick; Osvaldo Alonso, Gonzalo Pineda, Marco Pappa (Cristian Roldan 73), Lamar Neagle (Andy Rose 64); Chad Barrett (Darwin Jones 84), Clint Dempsey
Subs Not Used: Troy Perkins, Zach Scott, Leo Gonzalez, Michael Azira
|Shots on Goal||3||1|
SKC -- Kevin Ellis (caution; reckless foul) 81
SKC -- Soni Mustivar (caution; dissent) 81