Defender Nuno Andre Coelho scored in his Major League Soccer debut on Sunday as Sporting Kansas City opened the 2016 MLS season with a 1-0 road victory over Seattle Sounders FC at CenturyLink Field.
A 30-yard strike from the Portuguese center back in the 73rd minute gave Sporting Kansas City its first win in Seattle since 2009 and extended the club's unbeaten streak against Sounders FC to four matches. Goalkeeper Tim Melia was forced to make just two saves on Sunday, but both were of the spectacular variety as Sporting Kansas City emerged with three points on an MLS opening day in which all 20 teams kicked off their respective campaigns.
UPHORIA: The Day after Sporting KC wins, Sporting KC Uphoria users can enjoy a complementary appetizer with a $20 purchase at No Other Pub in the Kansas City Power & Light District (1370 Grand Blvd.).
Melia was first tested in the 15th minute when Seattle was awarded a free kick 20 yards from goal. Clint Dempsey's curling strike was destined for the top corner, but the 2015 MLS Comeback Player of the Year dove at full extension to touch the ball over the woodwork. Sounders FC nearly went ahead on the ensuing corner kick, but Chad Marshall's header rattled the crossbar.
The visitors carved out their first chance in the 21st minute. Dom Dwyer had space in a central area and played a through ball to Connor Hallisey, whose low drive from the left side of the box was saved by Stefan Frei.
The complexion of the match changed significantly in the 41st minute when Seattle fullback Oniel Fisher received a straight red card from referee Alan Kelly after a two-footed challenge on Hallisey. The Sounders were reduced to 10 men for the remainder of the game, and Sporting Kansas City used the advantage to control possession and territory for much of the second half.
Despite Fisher's ejection, Seattle created the first scoring chance after halftime. Melia produced his second superb stop in the 53rd minute, parrying a stinging shot from Andreas Ivanschitz onto the crossbar to keep the hosts off the scoresheet.
Seeking its first win in Seattle since April 2009, Sporting Kansas City turned its numerical advantage into a flurry of chances. A pair of opportunities fell to Roger Espinoza - making his first appearance for the club since August - in the space of a minute just after the hour mark. Graham Zusi, himself making his 150th MLS start, lofted a ball to the far left post where Dwyer cushioned a header into the path of Espinoza. The shot inside the box was blocked amidst heavy traffic, but the Honduran was at it again shortly thereafter, firing wide of Frei's lefthand post.
Sporting Kansas City broke through in the 73rd minute, courtesy of Coelho's right boot. The 6-foot-4 defender received a pass from Jordi Quintilla and sent a long-range blast into the far left corner of the net, skipping below the outstretched Frei to give his new club a 1-0 advantage at rain-soaked CenturyLink Field. The scoreline would hold to the final whistle as Manager Peter Vermes' men kept Seattle at bay. Sunday's result gave Sporting Kansas City its 13th season-opening win, more than any other MLS club.
Sporting Kansas City will return to MLS action on Saturday for the club's 2016 home opener against Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Children's Mercy Park. The match will kick off at 7:30 p.m. CT and a limited number of tickets are available via Ticketmaster.com. Vancouver dropped its 2016 home opener on Sunday, falling 3-2 to the Montreal Impact.
2016 MLS Regular Season
Game 1 of 34
Century Link Field | Seattle, Washington
Weather: 50 degrees and rainy
#SEAvSKC Video Highlights
Postgame: Matt Besler
Postgame: Roger Espinoza
Postgame: Chance Myers
|Sporting KC (1-0-0, 3 pts)||0||1||1|
|Seattle Sounders FC (0-1-0, 0 pts)||0||0||0|
Sporting Kansas City: Tim Melia; Chance Myers, Nuno Andre Coelho, Matt Besler, Amadou Dia; Soni Mustivar, Jordi Quintilla, Roger Espinoza; Connor Hallisey (Jimmy Medranda 82), Dom Dwyer, Graham Zusi
Subs Not Used: Alec Kann, Saad Abdul-Salaam, Kevin Ellis, Lawrence Olum, Jacob Peterson, Daniel Salloi
Seattle Sounders FC: Stefan Frei; Oniel Fisher, Brad Evans (Dylan Remick 90), Chad Marshall, Joevin Jones; Cristian Roldan, Osvaldo Alonso, Andreas Ivanschitz; Jordan Morris (Oalex Anderson 83), Nelson Valdez (Zach Scott 70), Clint Dempsey
Subs Not Used: Tyler Miller, Nathan Sturgis, Aaron Kovar, Darwin Jones
|Shots on Goal||4||2|
SEA -- Oniel Fisher (ejection; serious foul) 41
SKC -- Graham Zusi (caution; unsporting behavior) 76
SKC -- Roger Espinoza (caution; unsporting behavior) 77
SKC -- Nuno Andre Coelho 1 (Jordi Quintilla 1) 73