In a 1-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City, the Sounders failed to capitalize on opportunities and created chances for their opponent out of thin air. It’s a long season. But man — it was also a really long day.
Well, that sucked.
As far as season debuts go, this has to be the one the Sounders most want to delete from their memories.
A buzz-killing red card. An injury to the captain. A whiff on what should have been an easy save.
Certainly not the hat trick anyone on the team was hoping for Sunday.
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In a 1-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City, the Sounders performed about as inauspiciously as is possible. They failed to capitalize on opportunities, created chances for their opponent out of thin air, and left nearly 40,000 people wondering what the hell they just saw.
Yes, there are still 33 games to play and lots of time to improve. It’s a long season.
But man — it was also a really long day.
“I don’t want to remember this very long,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said. “This is one thing you’d like to forget.”
For a second, it looked as though Sunday’s opener was going to be more about fireworks than it was about flubs. In the ninth minute, rookie phenom Jordan Morris had a clear shot on goal that sailed over the bar.
It wasn’t necessarily a gaffe, but it was a play an elite striker should finish.
“That could have changed the game,” Morris said.
And the game certainly changed from there.
If there was a defining moment on the field Sunday, it came when Seattle’s Oniel Fisher tried to make a tackle with two feet up and his cleats out in the 41st minute. It didn’t matter that there was minimal contact on the play — the act warranted a red card, which Fisher received.
Suddenly, a defender who was magnificent for most of the first half was ejected, forcing the Sounders to play a man down for the rest of the game. They didn’t recover.
Sure, there were brief moments of hope scattered over the next 50 minutes, but nothing tangible came out of it. Clint Dempsey almost single-handedly weaved through KC’s defense en route to a second-half goal, but was denied by keeper Tim Melia.
By game’s end, Kansas City outshot Seattle 14-8, which is rarely a recipe for a victory. But the nature of Sporting KC’s lone goal has to leave the Sounders feeling more flustered than usual.
Stefan Frei is a top-5 MLS goalie who had a bottom-five career moment Sunday. In the 73rd minute, Kansas City’s Nuno Coehlo ripped a shot from more than 25 yards away that rolled under a diving Frei’s arm.
Before that, the Sounders appeared as though they might salvage a tie despite the series of unfortunate events that came prior. They didn’t. And it got worse from there.
In the 89th minute, Sounders captain Brad Evans was subbed out after falling on his left shoulder while battling for a header. It was gruesome to watch, and while he likely won’t be out too long, it did serve as somewhat of a knockout blow for this not-so-memorable afternoon.
Oh, and it probably didn’t help that DC United winger Lamar Neagle, who the Sounders traded this offseason, scored in the first five minutes of his game Sunday. But hey, as the players who walked off that slippery CenturyLink Field can tell you, when it rains it pours.
Having said that, the Sounders envision plenty of sunny days ahead. After the match, Schmid acknowledged the disappointing result, but is confident that it’s not an omen for what’s to come.
“There are 33 games left; there are 99 points still out there. If we had 99 points at the end of the year, we would all be ecstatic,” Schmid said. “It’s just a blip. Journeys aren’t always easy. This journey, for this year, has started off a little bit rocky, and we just have to get back on the road and push forward.”
It’s true. Teams have recovered from a lot worse, and when at full strength, Seattle looked good Sunday.
As they say, it’s not how you start but how you finish. The Sounders? They better hope that’s true.