Sep 1, 2018; Seattle, WA, USA; The Seattle Sounders FC celebrate their 3-1 win over Sporting Kansas City at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports
SEATTLE – The Seattle Sounders won their eighth consecutive match Saturday, a feat no other club has accomplished in a single season during the post-shootout era of Major League Soccer. Goals from Raul Ruidiaz and Nicolas Lodeiro, plus a Graham Zusi own goal, saw Seattle take down Sporting Kansas City 3-1 at CenturyLink field.
“It takes an entire group to make this accomplishment,” Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer said. “It takes an entire group to make this moment. It’s pretty special. In a league filled with parity, this is a huge accomplishment. It’s going to get harder and harder and harder as more teams come into the league to do this, so I’m very proud of the group in there.”
Kansas City jumped out to an early lead in the second minute, when a failed defensive clearance bounced off Gerso Fernandes. Diego Rubio fired the ball into the net as the Seattle defense froze in place.
“That wasn’t unlucky,” Schmetzer said. “We weren’t ready for what they brought. They lined up on a kick off with five guys to come and press us. We needed to say, ‘OK, here they come.’ You know Peter Vermes is a great coach. He gets his team fired up. We should have realized that. That first two minutes we were under it. They put us under pressure. That’s all on me. I needed to make sure the team was ready for a playoff type game. That’s on us. And it won’t happen again.”
Seattle answered back 10 minutes later, when Brad Smith picked up an Osvaldo Alonso pass in the left alley and crossed it to Ruidiaz in the 6-yard box to level the score.
Seattle added another goal in bizarre fashion in the 52nd minute, when Harry Shipp gave chase to a ball at the goal line and attempted to cross it back into the middle of the field. Shipp’s cross bounced off Graham Zusi and deflected into the far side netting. The own goal was the third scored by Seattle opponents in the last three matches.
“It always evens out at the end of the year,” Schmetzer said. “You make your own luck as well. I would say that group in there is starting to make their own luck. Yes, we’ve been unlucky in the beginning of the year. I’m not going to deny that, but, yes, I do think that the overall full season, it does even out. Kim Kee-hee against Portland, you can say that was lucky, but he put the ball in a dangerous spot. Harry put the ball in a dangerous spot. When you put pressure on opponents, good things happen.”
The strangeness continued three minutes later, when Brad Smith won a penalty kick off Ike Opara, sending a cross off his outstretched arm. Nicolas Lodeiro converted the penalty to give Seattle a 3-1 lead.
The final bit of weirdness took place in the 81st minute, when referee Baldomero Toledo called for video review after the Sounders cleared a ball away from their penalty area. Toledo left the monitor and gave Seattle centerback Chad Marshall a straight red card for serious foul play after his outstretched leg clipped Kansas City substitute Johnny Russell atop the box.
Kansas City peppered Seattle with seven more shots after Marshall was dismissed, but only one from Krisztian Nemeth was on target, while the others either missed the mark or were blocked by Seattle’s back line.
Kansas City outshot the Sounders 19-9 and held 60.2 percent of the possession. Graham Zusi finished with a match-high 96 touches and completed 49 of his 62 passes for Sporting KC.
“It’s not over yet,” Schmetzer said. “We must be able to close out this season in the best way possible. We know it’s pro sports, we don’t expect to go all the way undefeated, but that certainly is our goal. Every game means something. We need to collect points in severy single game home and away.”