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Sporting KC vs. Sounders, recap: Not good enough

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Sounders stumble out of the gate and can’t complete comeback.

MLS: Seattle Sounders FC at Sporting Kansas City Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

In what might be their last match until July with anything like a full squad, the Seattle Sounders missed out on a golden opportunity to pad their point total. Arguably their worst half of the year — non-LAFC edition — put them in a 2-0 halftime hole and a galant comeback attempt fell short. Despite goals from Raúl Ruidíaz and Kelvin Leerdam, the Sounders fell 3-2 to a Sporting KC side that hadn’t won since March.

Key moments

  • Whatever Brian Schmetzer’s game plan, it went about as poorly as it could through 30 minutes. Sporting KC dominated possession and chances, looking like they were poised to steamroll the Sounders.
  • All that domination finally came to something in the 29th minute when Sporting KC converted a turnover near midfield into the opening goal. Handwalla Bwana lost a battle with Nicolas Hasler, who sent a ball over the top that Roman Torres appeared to have play on. But Torres missed the ball, allowing Yohan Croizet to gain control. Kim Kee-hee seemed well positioned to defend Croizet, but lost his feet. Croizet then found Russell at the top of the box and his shot beat Stefan Frei to the far post.
  • The Sounders were able to get a bit more of the game at that point, but not enough that they were generating real chances. Still, they seemed poised to head into halftime down just 1-0 with a chance to recollect themselves.
  • Russell put an end to that, though, in first half stoppage time when he dribbled through Brad Smith, Bwana and Delem to get a shot from about 12 yards out that Frei had no chance at stopping.
  • Halftime seemed to serve the Sounders well and had their best look of the match to that point when Ruidíaz worked himself into position for a good shot in the 48th minute. Replays seemed to show it being deflected out, but either way the chance came to nothing.
  • The Sounders finally got on the board in the 63rd minute, mainly through some impressive play by Kelvin Leerdam. The right back took a pass from Harry Shipp, dropped his shoulder and spun around his defender, feeding Ruidiaz for a wide open chance. Ruidíaz took an extra touch, but finished with authority.
  • Any good feelings were short-lived, though, as Russell completed his hat trick in the 68th minute on a counter-attack. It appeared as though Smith was trying to hand off Russell to Nouhou, but no one closed down the shooter and he easily beat Frei.
  • Just three minutes later, the Sounders were again back in the game when Leerdam powered in a header off a Nicolas Lodeiro corner kick.
  • The Sounders had a golden chance to equalize in the 74th minute when Lodeiro stole a Melia pass and pushed forward to Ruidiaz. Melia did a good job of closing down Ruidiaz, who was able to find Lodeiro. Lodeiro tried to chip Melia, who was able to make the save only for the rebound to come out to Shipp. But Shipp struggled to settle the ball, allowing Melia a chance to close him down and make another save.
  • The last real chance at a equalizer came in the 92nd minute when Román Torres had a decent look at a tight angle shot. Torres made good contact, and Melia let it slip through but was able to recover just before the ball crossed the goal line.

Talking points

The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Start: I hesitate to call this the worst start of the Sounders season. That has to belong to the LAFC match that ended up finishing 4-1. But that game set up poorly for a few reasons, notably a couple key absences and LAFC basically doing that to everyone. This one, however, seemed like a good chance to get some points. The Sounders weren’t anything like full strength, but Sporting KC was considerably more short-handed and leaking goals. But instead of taking control early, the Sounders were constantly on the back foot mainly due to some very poor giveaways. They eventually recovered, but not before they were trailing 2-0.

Smith exposed?: I don’t want to make too much of one bad game, but it sure seemed like Sporting KC made a choice to attack down their right side a lot. All three of their goals came from Smith’s side. Smith also had a rather jaw-dropping seven touches that led to turnovers, a subpar 71 percent completion percentage, and his only defensive actions were three recoveries. Not the kind of performance you hope to see from a player who just received his first national team call-up in two years. It should be said that Leerdam wasn’t much better in possession, but he at least offered some genuine danger going forward.

A new X-Man: It’s obviously way too early to bestow a legendary Seattle sports nickname like “X-Man” on a player with one career appearance for a local team, but who among us wasn’t at least encouraged by what we saw in Xavier Arreaga’s debut? Arreaga was called into action to replace Kim in the 37th minute and never looked remotely overwhelmed. He was credited with two crunching tackles, one clearance, a blocked shot and completed 91 percent of his 35 passes that included completing 5 of 7 long balls. There’s at least a chance he’ll be available to start next week, but he will almost certainly claim the starting spot once he’s full integrated sometime in July.

Did you see that?!?

One stat to tell the tale

9 — Sporting KC had not won since March 30, a span of nine matches across all competitions and seven in league play. That somewhat overstates just how bad they’ve been, but they were definitely a vulnerable opponent.

Poll

Sounders Man of the Match

This poll is closed

  • 5%
    Raul Ruidiaz
    (43 votes)
  • 69%
    Will Bruin
    (535 votes)
  • 5%
    Roman Torres
    (45 votes)
  • 18%
    Jordy Delem
    (142 votes)
765 votes total Vote Now