Sporting Kansas City 1, Sounders 1
In his opinion, Patrick Ianni never scored a better goal. It still wasn't enough for the Seattle Sounders to snap a winless streak that now stands at six matches.
Jacob Peterson scored on a deflected shot in the eighth minute for Sporting Kansas City, and Ianni's electrifying volley goal just a few minutes later was enough for the Sounders to earn a draw 1-1 on Wednesday night.
Kansas City is now unbeaten in its last four matches - two wins and two draws - and continued to inch toward the top of Major League Soccer's Eastern Conference. Meanwhile, the Sounders are slumping, and with a rivalry game at Portland coming up Sunday.
Despite the draw, Seattle coach Sigi Schmid was pleased with the improved effort over last Saturday's 4-1 loss at Montreal. Seattle nearly pulled out the victory in the 88th minute when Fredy Montero's shot beat goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen, but deflected off both posts and stayed out of the net.
''I thought it was a major jump forward from the way we played in Montreal,'' Schmid said. ''I thought our effort and our desire was very good and unfortunately it didn't bear the ultimate fruit for us in terms of winning the game.''
Much of the focus from Seattle's perspective never left the bench area, where Steve Zakuani sat as a potential substitute for the first time since suffering a broken lower right leg in a game at Colorado in April 2011. Zakuani warmed up at halftime with the rest of Seattle's possible subs, but remained on the bench with coach Sigi Schmid choosing to use his subs on Andy Rose, Alvaro Fernandez and Sammy Ochoa.
Schmid said the physicality of the game caused him to hesitate about using Zakuani, a decision Zakuani agreed with.
''The referee wasn't really protecting players and I didn't think that was a good environment to throw him into in the first game,'' Schmid said.
The physical game took an ugly turn during second-half stoppage time when Seattle's Alvaro Fernandez was given a red card for his retaliatory tackle on Roger Espinoza. There was pushing and shoving, and plenty of complaints for referee Jair Marrufo, but only a few cards shown.
''Players should never try and control what the referee is doing or not doing,'' Fernandez said through an interpreter. ''I made a mistake and it won't happen again.''
Peterson's goal came when his shot from the edge of the penalty area deflected off Seattle midfielder Osvaldo Alonso and past goalkeeper Andrew Weber. It was the kind of start Kansas City was hoping to get having lost its previous five games to the Sounders. It also continued Kansas City's impressive rebound from a three-game losing streak earlier this season.
''We talked about silencing the crowd. It's a tough place to come play, tough place to come get a point. However long they've been in the league, I don't' think I've gotten a point here,'' said Peterson, who scored his first goal of the season.
''They were on a bit of a slide, if we could get on them early, hopefully take them out of it. They scored pretty quickly after that, but getting a point was what we wanted.''
The Sounders got even just seven minutes later when Ianni's volley off a free kick from Mauro Rosales blew past Nielsen for his first goal of the year. Alex Caskey twice had chances in each half to give Seattle the lead. His left-footed shot on a breakaway in the second half beat Nielsen, but went wide of the post.
''Best goal in practice, games, since I was born,'' Ianni said.
Kansas City nearly took the lead in the 71st minute when defender Chance Myers, pushing forward on a corner kick, saw his header stopped at the goal line by Weber. It was an impressive stop by Weber, making his first start for Seattle after Bryan Meredith allowed four goals to Montreal in a 4-1 defeat last weekend. Both Weber and Meredith are filling in while starter Michael Gspurning recovers from a hip injury.
Kansas City played without regular starters Bobby Convey and Matt Besler, both out with injuries.
''To come up here and get a result like we did I think was big time, especially since we have five games in 14 days, so it was imperative for us,'' Kansas City coach Peter Vermes said.