Sporting Kansas City’s club-record 13-game unbeaten streak across all competitions was snapped in a 1-0 defeat to Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday afternoon.
Clint Dempsey headed home the match-winner in the 36th minute to send Sounders FC (10-7-7, 37 points) into a first-place tie atop the Western Conference standings with Sporting Kansas City (9-5-10, 37 points). Saturday’s result put an end to Seattle’s six-game regular-season winless drought against manager Peter Vermes’ men, who suffered their first loss since May 27.
A third game in seven days prompted Vermes to reshuffle his lineup, which featured seven changes from Wednesday’s grueling shootout victory over the San Jose Earthquakes in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup semifinals.
Holding midfielder James Musa – who signed for the club just 24 hours earlier from the Swope Park Rangers – was thrust into the fold for his MLS debut, joining Jimmy Medranda and Soni Mustivar in the center of the park. Gerso and Daniel Salloi flanked Soony Saad up top, while goalkeeper Tim Melia was shielded by a back four of Saad Abdul-Salaam, Erik Palmer-Brown, Matt Besler and Seth Sinovic.
Seattle’s midfield talisman Nicolas Lodeiro created two chances within the first 10 minutes, seeing his corner kick nodded wide by Chad Marshall before teeing up Dempsey for a low drive that Melia corralled comfortably. Sporting KC threatened at the opposite end shortly thereafter, as Saad’s corner delivery caromed off the back of Marshall’s head and glanced just beyond the far left post.
Left back Joevin Jones launched forward in the 22nd minute in search of his 11th assist of the campaign, but his cutback pass across the face of goal was dragged wayward by Cristian Roldan near the top of the box.
The visitors were pegged back nine minutes before intermission when a pair of U.S. internationals combined for the decisive strike. Jordan Morris exploited open space on the right wing and clipped a far-post cross to Dempsey, who directed a strong header into the right corner of the net for his 50th career goal as a Sounder, including his sixth in his last five MLS matches. The play ended Seattle’s 363-minute regular-season scoreless spell against Sporting KC dating back to September 2015.
Jones buccaneered down the left flank once more in the 42nd minute, combining neatly with Lodeiro on the edge of the box, but the midfielder’s thunderous attempt whistled wide of the woodwork and into the side netting.
A tame start to the second half saw neither side threaten until the 62nd minute when substitute Latif Blessing dashed into the penalty area, cut the ball onto his left foot and blasted a near-post effort that was snagged cleanly by Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei. Seven minutes later, midfielder Osvaldo Alonso – making his first Seattle appearance since July 4 due to injury – unleashed a fierce, 30-yard volley that dipped narrowly wide.
Sporting Kansas City’s best opportunity to equalize came in the 74th minute. A deflected shot from Cristian Lobato fell to substitute Benny Feilhaber with his back toward goal. Feilhaber promptly teed up the trailing Musa, whose low, left-footed strike from 22 yards was smothered by the sprawling Frei.
Jones continued to probe the Sporting KC defense from the left channel, whipping a delightful cross to Roldan in the 83rd minute only for Melia to make a routine save off the header. Melia produced another stop two minutes later, blocking Lodeiro’s venomous effort from a tight angle.
Sporting Kansas City will now rest and recover ahead of next Saturday’s pivotal home test against FC Dallas. The Western Conference clash will kick off at 7:30 p.m., and a limited number of tickets are available at SeatGeek.com as world-class Children’s Mercy Park looks to sell out its 100th consecutive MLS match dating back to April 2012.
– Story from Sporting KC