It was that kind of evening for the Seattle Sounders. A red card, a soft goal allowed, a possible injury to their captain and ultimately a 1-0 loss in a season-opener to Sporting Kansas City on Sunday.
Early on, it hadn't looked so bad. The Sounders generated several good chances, once when Clint Dempsey's free kick was barely tip over the bar and a few minutes later when Chad Marshall's header off a corner hit the crossbar. Jordan Morris also ended up with a quality look on a breakaway, but his shot went well over.
Then disaster struck in the 41st minute. Brad Evans couldn't quite clear a ball out to the wing and Oniel Fisher looked like he was caught between trying to block the ball and go in for a tackle. He ended up awkwardly going in with two feet, and although he won the ball cleanly, referee Alan Kelly immediately went to his back pocket.
Down a man, the Sounders were basically limited to looking for counter-attack chances. They had a few openings and nearly scored when Andreas Ivanschitz broke through to put a well-struck shot on frame in the 53rd minute. Tim Melia got just enough of it to have the ball come off the crossbar, but it had so much topspin that the deflection fooled Nelson Valdez, who was otherwise in good position for the rebound. Valdez tried a bicycle kick, but shot it well over. (And, as it turned out, he was offside...)
Shortly after, the rain started coming down and it would prove consequential. Nuno Andre Coelho ripped a shot from about 25 yards out that appeared to skid a bit on the turf, and apparently fooling Frei. The shot ended up sliding under his bicep for what might be the softest goal he's allowed as a Sounder.
The Sounders continued to press a bit, most notably through Oalex Anderson who was a late substitute. As if things hadn't gotten bad enough, Brad Evans went down hard after being undercut by Dom Dwyer. He came off with what appeared to be a separated shoulder.
- It's hard to argue too strenuously with Fisher's red card. He may have won the ball, but he came in late and had two studs showing. There have been plenty of tackles that were more dangerous and may not have been even called fouls, but trying to get rid of these kinds of plays is not a bad goal. We can only hope that MLS is consistent with these calls.
- Until the red card, the Sounders looked like they were the better team. They had generated most of the chances and even after the card, had a couple good looks at finding a goal. But they didn't look particularly sharp in the final third and definitely need to be a bit better at putting open chances on frame. Alonso was able to run onto a couple deflected balls and never came particularly close to worrying Melia. Similarly, Morris had a great look and couldn't challenge Melia.
- The Sounders are going to have to show off their depth even earlier than we thought. Erik Friberg is still going through a concussion protocol, Zach Scott may be pressed into duty at center back and if Tyrone Mears isn't back by next week, Roldan could get his first start at right back. None of this is ideal, but we'll learn something about this team either way.