Seattle Sounders 1-0 Sporting Kansas City: Late Goal From Parke Gives Seattle The Win

Jeff Parke scored his first MLS goal since 2004 in the 93rd minute, giving Seattle the win after a largely frustrating performance against Sporting Kansas City.

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Seattle Sounders 1-0 Sporting Kansas City: Stoppage Time Goal From Jeff Parke Saves Drab Sounders Performance

Sporting Kansas City have to feel like their trips to Seattle are some sort of recurring nightmare; for the second consecutive year the Sounders converted a stoppage time goal into three points, this time thanks to Jeff Parke's 93rd minute header from Tyson Wahl's corner. Things looked to be heading for a frustrating 0-0 draw up to that point as neither team did much to trouble the opposition's keeper and though the Sounders spent the majority of the game in control of the run of play they were unable to muster much in terms of creating chances. Parke's goal was the result of a corner that almost never was, as Roger Levesque took a throw-in that was called back after the Assistant Referee ruled that ball went over the end line.

It was a largely frustrating night for the Sounders, as Kansas City were a team they might have expected to beat handily at home rather than relying on a goal just a minute before the final whistle. Seattle looked both flat and frustrated all evening long, with little in the way of creativity in the attack. Alvaro Fernandez and Mauro Rosales were both booked for offense largely borne out of said frustration, Fernandez for kicking a ball away after possession was awarded to Kansas City and Rosales for making a very cynical challenge after being on the receiving end of several physical fouls. Things got a bit chippy as the game went on, with Sporting upping the physical play and Seattle responding in kind. The Sounders are not especially well cut out for that type of game and what had once been a free-flowing and open affair fizzled quite a bit towards the end with a great deal of long-ball play and head tennis from both sides. In a year of frustrating results for Seattle, this looked to be as frustrating as any.

Parke's header might have come as a relief, but the Sounders clearly have some issues to address ahead of Wednesday's match with one of the league's hottest teams in FC Dallas. The creative spark and bossing of the midfield that mark a Seattle team firing on all cylinders have been missing for several weeks now, and though the Sounders should field a lineup closer to full strength on Wednesday they'll need a far better performance should they hope to earn a result-let alone a win-against Dallas. Seattle is not a team that tend to threaten from set-pieces and that they were the only real opportunity for danger on the evening is not a good sign.

There were some positives from the game however, as the Sounders back line completely bottled a strong Kansas City attack in what very well may have been their strongest performance on the year. James Riley was not nearly as effective going forward as he has been in the past but his play in the defensive phase was as good as he's displayed in his entire time with the club. Tyson Wahl continues to impress at left back in all areas and his delivery in the attack (and from set plays) was very solid. The Jhon Kennedy Hurtado-Jeff Parke center back pairing was excellent and at this point would appear to be as close to first choice as could be expected given Sigi Schmid's seeming preference for some rotation at the position. Kansas City has the worst record in MLS but the attack hasn't been the problem, and tonight Seattle made them a non-factor. Given the struggles displayed in the attacking phase, such a performance was likely necessary to take point from this game.

In all, far from a confidence inspiring performance from Seattle but with the injury difficulties in the midfield appearing to be close to working themselves out and O'Brian White reportedly much closer to returning to action than first thought, taking three points from this game no matter how ugly it might have been is by far the most important thing. There wasn't much outside of the result of this game that should excite Sounders fans, but this is a team that's faced a tremendous amount of adversity so far this season and still tends to find a way to nick results. There's little reason to expect them to decline and many reasons to expect them to get better-perhaps much better-as the season goes on. They might not have been the easiest three points the Sounders pick up all year, but in the end they all count the same in the table.

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Seattle Sounders Vs. Sporting Kansas City: 0-0 At Half Time

Seattle's attack started the game somewhat listlessly and Sporting Kansas City had the far better of the play early on, but the Sounders defense held strong against significant pressure from the visitors and took control of the run of play for the remainder of the half. Kansas City adjusted well tactically and have managed to bunker down effectively and generate enough pressure on the counter to keep things open and flowing well.

Seattle started in a diamond 4-4-2 with Servando Carrasco on the right and the youngster has looked far less comfortable out wide than he does at his normal holding midfield position. As Kansas City made headway down the flanks the formation shifted more towards a 4-3-3 with Fredy Montero on the left, Roger Levesque on the right and Mauro Rosales in the center with the three swapping positions on occasion.

Seattle made a great deal of noise towards the end of the half but were unable to muster much on the way of clear-cut opportunities at goal. The Servando Carrasco as wide midfielder experiment was an interesting idea, but he's been very poor and some sort of tactical shift will be needed if Seattle hope to assert themselves more effectively in the attack. Seattle defense has been largely excellent, but if Kansas City smell a point as time goes on their approach is likely to become more conservative. An appearance by Lamar Neagle, Mike Fucito or Nate Jaqua as early as the second half kickoff would not be much of a surprise at all.

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Seattle Sounders Vs. Sporting Kansas City: Lineups

Three changes for the Sounders tonight, one forced by the injury to Brad Evans (who is not in the 18 tonight) and the two others likely made with an eye towards Wednesday night's match against FC Dallas. Servando Carrasco is once again starting as a second holding midfielder alongside Osvaldo Alonso. Eirk Friberg is in the 18 this evening, but likely not 90 minutes fit. Also notable; Omar Bravo makes his return to KC's starting lineup after missing over a month due to a sports hernia.

The Sounders lineup would appear to be their standard 4-1-3-1-1 but they're referring to it as a 4-3-3, so that will be something to keep an eye on. Sporting are sticking with their familiar 4-3-3.

Sounders XI: Keller; Riley, Hurtado, Parke, Wahl; Alonso, Carrasco, Fernandez, Rosales; Montero, Levesque

Sounders Subs: Boss, Scott, Ianni, Friberg, Jaqua, Fucito, Neagle

Sporting KC XI: Nielsen; Espinoza, Collin, Besler, Harrington; Rocastle, Arnaud, Bravo; Smith, Bunbury, Kamara

Sporting KC Subs: Diop, Myers, Cesar, Sapong, Sassano, Zusi, Kronberg

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Seattle Sounders Vs. Sporting Kansas City: Match Preview

Coming into the season Sporting KC were seen as strong playoff contenders, perhaps not a lock for one of the automatic playoff spots but definite widely regarded as a solid bet to make some noise in the Eastern Conference. That's not really how things have gone, and while it's early yet, but it seems safe to say that KC aren't going to be causing much concern for the teams at the top. With their horrific mark of 1-5-1 only coming 4 points (half the number of the second most hapless team in MLS, the Vancouver Whitecaps) and a league-worst -6 goal differential, Sporting KC have a massive hill to climb if they even hope to re-enter the playoff discussion.

There are extenuating circumstances (as there would almost have to be) and most notable is the fact that Kansas City have yet to play a game at home. LIVESTRONG Sporting Park won't be completed until June 9th and in order to make the most of the allure of a new stadium and the increased revenue that (hopefully0 comes along with it, the club elected to start the season with the mother of all road trips as opposed to finding a temporary venue. It was a decision that made some sense at the time, but one must imagine that the team's awful start has led to a great deal of second guessing. The team has also been without one of their more potent weapons inforward Omar Bravo for most of the season, and though he is expected to be available on Saturday he will almost certainly not be 90-minute-fit. But while circumstances might not have been exactly favorable so far, they don't excuse Sporting's slow start entirely.

Kansas City has been, quite frankly, a bad team in six of their first seven, winning their first game 3-2 over Chivas USA and gaining just one additional point the rest of the way in a 3-3 draw with Vancouver. But while Sporting have been legitimately poor, it's also important to note that all of their games save a 4-1 loss to LA Galaxy their last time out have been relatively close with narrow 1-0 losses to Columbus Crew and New York Red Bulls standing out. Sporting have shown they can hang fairly close to quality teams and they've shown an ability to score goals against non-elite defensive clubs. Kansas City's troubles have come in terms of giving up goals rather than scoring them with their mark of 17 against tied for second worst in MLS. Unfortunately for Seattle, their mark against teams with decent attacks and poor defenses is not exactly sparkling, even at home.

Seattle should win this game; playing at home against the team that is bay far statistically the worst in the league should be a given for teams with aspirations as high as the Sounders. Still, almost no one believes that Sporting are as bad as they've shown to this point and something about the collection of attacking talent on their squad versus the Sounders lackluster offense, coming so close on the heels of the Timbers game, makes this one seem to have fairly massive trap potential. Teal Bunbury and Kei Kamara are both capable of turning games on their head at a moment's notice, and with a back four that's shown a tendency towards disorganization and a spotty record defending the counter-attack they'll be players to keep an eye on. More important than that though will be the Sounders attack against themselves. There are a lot of very frustrated players wearing rave green these days and their tendency to over-think things has been a huge problem. Unless the Kansas City team everyone expected at the beginning of the year suddenly decide to show up, the only way the Sounders are going to lose this game is to beat themselves.

On the injury front, Seattle expects Erik Friberg to be available to start, Mauro Rosales to be available and Brad Evans to be a game-time decision, though Sigi Schmid seemed to be leaning more towards his being out. With a game against FC Dallas on Wednesday, expect some changes from the regular rotation.

For more on this game and everything Sounders, visit SB Nation's Seattle Sounders blog Sounder At Heart.

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