Seattle Sounders substitute forward Chad Barrett (19), gets congratulated by teammates after scoring a late winner against Sporting Kansas City in MLS' season-opening game. (Ted S. Warren/AP)
The seemingly inevitable happened again.
For the fifth time in their all-time series, Seattle scored a stoppage-time winning goal to defeat Sporting Kansas City, with the latest edition handing the Sounders a 1-0 win over the defending league champion to open the 2014 MLS season. Following a scrum in the box off a Sean Okoli cross, Chad Barrett poked home a late winner from the doorstep after Clint Dempsey's header clattered off the crossbar and his follow up scissor kick nudged the ball into Barrett's path.
The foul-laden match -- Seattle suffered a club-record 25 fouls, while committing 15 of its own at Century Link Field -- also had two players narrowly avoid being sent off. Both Aurelien Collin and Osvaldo Alonso had potential second-yellow offenses overlooked by replacement referee Alan Kelly, who otherwise avoided controversy with the spotlight squarely on his shoulders following Friday's referee lockout.
Dempsey, fresh off 90 minutes with the U.S. men's national team in Wednesday's 2-0 loss to Ukraine and a loan stint with Fulham, came off the bench in the 57th minute, and he nearly set up Obafemi Martins for a would-be goal in the 85th minute, but Martins was a step offside before finishing. As for some of the other individual standouts:
Seattle's Chad Marshall and DeAndre Yedlin held their own defensively, with Marshall dominant aerially, and Yedlin, though he was caught in possession in his own end on occasion, helping lock down the likes of Graham Zusi while owning his corner of the field.
For Sporting KC, Dom Dwyer was always looking like the most likely goal scorer donning blue, testing Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei in the first half with a bending shot and nearly coming through in stoppage time.
U.S. World Cup hopeful Benny Feilhaber also opened the season in form, though his hard work and sly passing out of the midfield went unrewarded on the scoreboard. It was almost instantaneously after he was brought off in stoppage time for Ike Opara that Seattle broke through:
Sporting KC, which defeated Seattle in penalties to claim the 2012 U.S. Open Cup, has little time to lick its wounds, with the first leg of its CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal against Liga MX-leading Cruz Azul commencing on Wednesday.
SI Now: Sounders' Brad Evans on managing high expectations
On Friday's SI Now, Sports Illustrated soccer writer Brian Straus sat down with Seattle Sounders midfielder Brad Evans to discuss how far MLS has come and juggling Sounders' expectations while trying to peak as the World Cup approaches.