Sporting Kansas City at Seattle: Takeaways from the opening game of MLS’s 2014 season

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1. CONCACAF Champions League plays a role in Major League Soccer’s opener

Kansas City faces Cruz Azul mid-week at Sporting Park. Perhaps that’s part of the reason why Peter Vermes exercised caution when selecting today’s starting lineup. Chance Myers and Seth Sinovic missed out. Oriol Rosell started on the bench in favor of Lawrence Olum. Graham Zusi was dropped into midfield in the absence of Paolo Nagamura. During a game decided by the thinest of margins, Sporting’s absences could have been the difference, but with Mexico’s leaders in Kansas on Wednesday, Vermes is already having to make sacrifices.

2. Changes will take some time to gel for Seattle

Seattle worked hard to create their winner, taking advantage of Sporting’s inability to deal with what could have been an innocuous cross, but for most of the match, the Sounders struggled to generate chances going forward. Granted, the same decryption could be applied to Kansas City, but coming off a fall where the attack was ineffectual, finding a way to consistently threaten goal is 2014’s number one priority. After 90 minutes, the search continues, but it continues from the top of the standings. And remember: This was Sporting Kansas City they were trying to break down.

3. This Sporting team looks awfully familiar

Stifling chances and chopping down their opponents. Add controlling the ball, and you’ve described a typical Sporting Kansas City performance. That they don’t win the possession battle (45 pct.) may have contributed to Seattle’s ability to create their final chance, one that delivered full points to Sigi Schmid’s side.

But that was Seattle’s first clear cut chance of the match. Going 93 minutes without allowing one, Sporting look capable of maintaining the stellar defensive record they’ve posted under Vermes (even if Eric Kronberg looked shaky at times in goal).

And with 25 fouls, the defending champions continue to play to type, continuing to pressure officials to limit how often they can obstruct over the course of 90 minutes.

It’s a very successful formula – one that opponents will continue to find frustrating throughout the 2014 season. Until somebody can give them an incentive to stop, there’s no reason for Sporting to change how they go about their business.