Zusi saves 2 – 2 draw with late goal against Seattle

Sporting midfielder Ilie Sanchez (6) scored on a penalty kick in the first half. (Photo copyright 2018 by Brian Turrel)

by Brian Turrel

Snow filtered down into Children’s Mercy Park, pushed about by sub-freezing breezes under gray skies. The outcome of the match was slightly more positive — a 2 – 2 Sporting Kansas City draw against the previously winless and goalless Seattle Sounders.

Veteran defender Graham Zusi scored the equalizer in the 78th minute. After serving up crosses to his teammates earlier in the game, this time Zusi instead dribbled in from the right side to about four yards before chipping the ball past Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei.

Seattle had taken a 2 – 1 lead five minutes earlier on Cristian Roldan’s shot from just outside the penalty area, set up by well-executed passes from Alex Roldan and Will Bruin. The buildup beat the Sporting defense, which was caught off guard by the challenge.

Seattle scored its first goal of the season in the final seconds of first half stoppage time, tying the score at 1 – 1. Midfielder Will Bruin received a long throw-in from Nicolas Lodeiro just in front of the goal and slipped it under Kansas City goalkeeper Tim Melia.

Sporting KC opened the scoring in the 34th minute when Ilie Sanchez scored on a penalty kick. The penalty was awarded when forward Johnny Russell was brought down in the penalty area by Seattle’s Nouhou Tolo.

Sporting kept Frei busy all night, placing eight shots on goal, including a header by Ilie Sanchez in the 83rd minute that would have put Kansas City on top.

About 200 fans stayed after the game for a Faith and Family event moved indoors because of the frigid temperatures outside. Former KU and NBA star Wayne Simien led Sporting Kansas City’s Seth Sinovic, Ike Opara and Matt Besler in a discussion of how their Christian faith affects their lives on and off the field.

Sporting KC remains on top of the MLS Western Conference, four points ahead of the Los Angeles Galaxy. The draw extends their unbeaten streak to six games. Sporting will play at home this Friday evening against the Vancouver Whitecaps, kicking off at 8 p.m.

Sporting forward Johnny Russell (7) struck a header wide of the goal. (Photo copyright 2018 by Brian Turrel)

Seattle defender Roman Torres (29) cleared the ball away from the Seattle goal. (Photo copyright 2018 by Brian Turrel)

Sporting forward Daniel Salloi (20) raced for the ball against Roman Torres. (Photo copyright 2018 by Brian Turrel)

Sporting midfielder Roger Espinoza (17) defended the ball from Seattle midfielder Cristian Roldan (7). (Photo copyright 2018 by Brian Turrel)

Kansas City singer Crystal Rose sang the national anthem before the game. (Photo copyright 2018 by Brian Turrel)

Zusi found space along the right side for a run to the goal. (Photo copyright 2018 by Brian Turrel)

Sporting defender Graham Zusi beat Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei (24) to tie the score at 2 – 2. (Photo copyright 2018 by Brian Turrel)

Frei stopped a header on goal by Ike Opara (3) in the 69th minute. (Photo copyright 2018 by Brian Turrel)

Sporting KC captain Matt Besler talked about how having a child changed his view of selflessness. (Photo copyright 2018 by Brian Turrel)

Former KU and NBA star Wayne Simien talked about how mastering the basics of Christian faith is similar to mastering basketball fundamentals, requiring daily practice. (Photo copyright 2018 by Brian Turrel)

Christian band 7eventh Time Down performed after the game in a concert moved indoors because of the weather. (Photo copyright 2018 by Brian Turrel)

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