Djimi Traore scored in stoppage time and the Sounders stunned Sporting Kansas City 1-0 on Wednesday night.
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — No one could quite believe it.
Not the 18,602 rowdy fans in Sporting Park, nor Sporting Kansas City’s coach Peter Vermes, incredulous after the game.
And in Sounder FC’s locker room, it was more amusing than anything, as they laughed and teased Djimi Traore about his first goal of the MLS season.
Heck, not even Traore himself — who sat smack in the middle of the box in the 94th minute as a loose ball fell right into his lap — could.
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“I was surprised to receive the ball in that area,” Traore said of his stoppage-time winner, the only goal in the Sounders’ 1-0 victory over Sporting on Wednesday night.
But there Traore was, with the match right there for the taking.
With the clubs seemingly headed for a scoreless tie, Zach Scott took a throw in deep in Sporting’s end, and Brad Evans flipped it toward the net.
The ball skipped between two Sporting defenders who whiffed on their clearance attempts and landed right at Traore’s feet.
Traore had enough time to casually corral the ball five feet in front of Sporting goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen and rifle it into the net.
“It was just one mistake after another,” Vermes said of the sequence leading up to Scott’s throw in. “Just unacceptable.”
It was the latest goal in Sounders history, breaking the mark set by Jeff Parke’s 93rd-minute goal on May 21, 2011.
Gift or not, Seattle will gladly accept it, especially given the recent rash of injuries and red cards — a problem which reared its head again, as backup goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann was ejected after receiving a red card in the 24th minute for arguing with the fourth official.
Still, the Sounders (2-3-3) managed to continue their unbeaten streak, as they haven’t dropped a match since a 1-0 setback to Santos Laguna on April 2.
“We’re happy to get a win,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “We needed the points. This team has played well over the last period of time as far as us competing, and we needed a smidgen of luck, which we haven’t been getting, and today we got it.”
It came in a stadium that hadn’t given Seattle much luck recently. The Sounders lost last year’s U.S. Open Cup final here in a penalty-kick shootout in which goalkeeper Michael Gspurning was penalized for coming off his line too early. Sporting won the shootout, 3-2, thanks in part to the call against Gspurning.
Early on in Wednesday’s game, it didn’t appear the breaks would go Seattle’s way, either. Hahnemann’s red card came on the heels of, aside from Traore’s late blast, Seattle’s best chance of the game. In the 21st minute, a drive toward Nielsen appeared to glance off Kansas City defender Ike Opara’s hand by the near post, but despite Seattle’s protests, no call came.
Sporting (5-4-2) controlled the majority of the half and held the edge in both possession and shot attempts (10-5). Kansas City’s best look came 20 seconds in, as Sporting’s Jacob Peterson broke toward the net and ripped a shot toward the far post that forced Gspurning to make a diving save.
The Sounders, however, were still largely unable to get upfield against Kansas City’s defense and test Nielsen in the second half. Until, of course, the ball popped free in the box and found Traore.
“You’re always surprised when things jump through,” Schmid said. “I thought we were a little hard-done in the first half, because I thought that was an obvious handball on Opara; it should’ve been a penalty shot.
“We just haven’t been getting those breaks along the way. This time we got a little bit of a break and that thing popped free.”
SOUNDERS FC 1, SPORTING KANSAS CITY 0
|Seattle FC||0 1 — 1|
|Sporting Kansas City||0 0 — 0|
Second half — 1, Seattle FC, Traore 1, 90th+ minute. Goalies — Seattle FC, Michael Gspurning; Sporting Kansas City, Jimmy Nielsen. Shots — Seattle FC 9, Sporting Kansas City 11. Shots on goal — Seattle FC 2, Sporting Kansas City 3. Saves — Seattle FC 3, Sporting Kansas City 4. Fouls — Seattle FC 11, Sporting Kansas City 15. Corner kicks — Seattle FC 5, Sporting Kansas City 3. Offsides — Seattle FC 5, Sporting Kansas City 1. Yellow Cards — Opara, Sporting Kansas City, 45th; Collin, Sporting Kansas City, 90th+. Red Cards — Hahnemann, Seattle FC, 24th. Referee — Geoff Gamble. Assistant Referees — Joe Fletcher. Marco Arruda. 4th Official — Tyler Ploeger. A — 18,602 (18,500)
Seattle FC — Michael Gspurning, Djimi Traore, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Zach Scott, Leo Gonzalez, Mario Martinez (Alex Caskey, 90th+), Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Servando Carrasco, David Estrada (Mauro Rosales, 84th), Eddie Johnson.
Sporting Kansas City — Jimmy Nielsen, Chance Myers, Ike Opara, Aurelien Collin, Josh Gardner (Seth Sinovic, 75th), Oriol Rosell, Peterson Joseph, Benny Feilhaber (Claudio Bieler, 65th), Jacob Peterson (Kei Kamara, 73rd), Graham Zusi, C.J. Sapong.