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.