Stoppage time heroics from new Sounder Chad Barrett delivered an opening day victory for Seattle, with the veteran attacker’s late conversion through 94th minute chaos delivering victory over Sporting Kansas City, 1-0.
On a late counter attack sparked by Osvaldo Alonso, the debuting Sean Okoli put a cross from the right flank toward the near post, six yards from goal. When Sporting goalkeeper Eric Kronberg was unable to get to the ball ahead of Matt Besler’s header, Clint Dempsey, from the middle of the six-yard box, headed his potential winner off the crossbar. The U.S. international’s attempt off the rebound was put home by Barrett, giving Seattle the one-goal victory.
Though Sporting’s Dom Dwyer came close to opening the scoring the first half, the league’s 2014 opener was defined by its lack of chances, with combative play through the middle of the field giving goalkeepers Kronberg and Stefan Frei relatively easy days. While the teams combined for 24 shots, only eight were on goal, with the midfield congestion that defined the season’s first game producing 40 fouls.
The whistles nearly saw Sporting’s Aurélien Collin earn an early dismissal, with Seattle left appealing for a second yellow multiple times after the Kansas City defender’s 16th minute booking. In the second half, Sporting took up the appeals when a 10-yard violation on a Graham Zusi restart left Osvaldo Alonso, carrying a yellow card, at the mercy of referee Alan Kelly. The replacement official, call on in place of the originally assigned Mark Grieger, declined to issue a second caution, leaving both teams at full strength.
As stoppage time approached, the battles in midfield waning in favor of end-to-end action, but until the fourth minute of stoppage time, that action failed to produce clear chances for either team. Second before the final whistle, however, Barrett cut in front of goal from the far post, finding himself in the right place to secure the Sounders’ first three points of the season.
Seattle Sounders: Frei, Yedlin, Marshall, Remick; Neagle (Okoli, 86), Alonso, Evans, Pappa (Dempsey, 57); Cooper (Barrett, 78), Martins
Goals: Barrett (90+4)
Sporting Kansas City: Kronberg; Ellis, Collin, Besler, Gardner (Jerome, 90+2); Olum, Feilhaber (Opara, 90+3), Zusi; Sapong, Dwyer, Peterson (Zizzo, 58)