Beyond The Box Score: No shortage of shivers as Sporting KC and Seattle settle for a draw

Since when did mid-April in Kansas City feel like mid-January in Minneapolis?

Answer: Sunday afternoon, when Sporting Kansas City and Seattle Sounders FC battled to a 2-2 draw amid frigid temperatures and howling winds at Children’s Mercy Park.

Fortunately for the 18,508 fans who braved the elements, the bone-chilling conditions did little to extinguish the flames of a feisty encounter that saw Sporting KC take the lead, fall behind, and then equalize to open a four-point lead at the top of the Western Conference and extend their unbeaten run to six matches.

But to overlook the weather narrative in Sunday’s game would be to overlook history.

After all, this was officially the coldest MLS regular season home match that Sporting KC has ever played. The 32-degree temperature at 3 p.m. kickoff time — wind chills dipped into the teens, mind you — etched its infamous place in the club record books. In 351 previous regular season home games, Sporting KC had never played in temperatures at or below freezing.

COLDEST SPORTING KC HOME MATCHES
(MLS REGULAR SEASON, ALL-TIME)

Temp (F) Date Result
32 degrees April 15, 2018 T 2-2 vs. Seattle Sounders FC
33 degrees March 11, 2017 T 0-0 vs. FC Dallas
38 degrees April 5, 2009 W 2-0 vs. San Jose Earthquakes

While the unseasonable chill caught the attention of supporters, players and broadcasters alike, Sunday was not the coldest MLS match this season. That title goes to Minnesota United FC versus Atlanta United FC, a 19-degree fixture played on March 31 in Minneapolis. That same day, the Colorado Rapids hosted the Philadelphia Union in a 29-degree game, the second-coldest of the year.

Conventional wisdom would have led many to assume that frosty conditions would lead to another low-scoring affair between Sporting KC and Seattle. This particular series has long been characterized by a slew of cagey battles with goals coming at a premium. Such was not the case on Sunday, as our Till Vodka Stat of the Match illustrates.

In yet another departure from the typical tale, Sporting KC came from behind to deny the Sounders maximum points. The hosts entered the final half-hour trailing 2-1, but Graham Zusi’s 78th-minute leveler thwarted Seattle’s bid for a first win of the 2018 campaign.

In past meetings, the Sounders have typically embraced the role of scoring late to break Sporting KC hearts. On eight different occasions including playoffs, the Rave Green have scored a game-winner against Sporting KC after the 75th minute, including five in the 90th minute or later. That accounts for eight of Seattle's nine all-time victories over Kansas City.

"There’s no doubt the group has an attitude of being able to come back from being down," Vermes said postgame. "They don’t get upset with being down and give up. They’re good in that regard and we’ve got to keep going."

Vermes has a point. Sunday marked the third time this season that Sporting KC has erased a deficit to earn a result, coming after a 4-3 win at Chicago on March 10 and a 2-2 tie at Colorado on March 24.

This week is a quick turnaround for Sporting KC, who return to Children’s Mercy Park on Friday to host Vancouver Whitecaps FC at 8 p.m. CT. Tickets for the matchup are available via SeatGeek.com, and the first 10,000 fans through the stadium gates will receive a Tim Melia bobblehead courtesy of match sponsor Mark One Electric.

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