SEATTLE, WA – Chad Barrett scored the game winner in second-half stoppage time as Seattle Sounders FC beat defending MLS Cup champion Sporting Kansas City, 1-0, in the MLS regular season opener Saturday afternoon on the Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field. Seattle’s attendance of 39,240 marked the largest opening day crowd in club history.
Barrett’s goal marked the first of his Sounders FC career and his 94th minute tally matched the latest goal scored in club history. It was the fifth time that Seattle has scored a game-winner in stoppage time against Kansas City, and the win extended Seattle’s unbeaten streak to eight (7-0-1) games against Sporting KC.
In the fourth minute of stoppage time, rookie Sean Okoli sent a cross in from the right flank and Clint Dempsey’s header caromed off the crossbar. Dempsey collected the rebound and poked it to Barrett in front of goal, and he slotted it past Kansas City keeper Eric Kronberg to give Seattle the win.
Sounders FC finished the match with a 14-10 advantage in total shots, including five shots on goal. Seattle fired eight shots in the opening 45 minutes, forcing Kronberg to make two saves.
Seattle’s best opportunity of the first half came in the 23rd minute when DeAndre Yedlin found space on the right flank and played Kenny Cooper into the box, but his low shot from the right side was stopped by Kronberg. In the 31st minute, Marco Pappa fired a left-footed shot from outside the box that took a deflection and nearly found the inside netting, but Kronberg pushed the ball wide of the post.
Seattle continued to press in the second half. In the 69th minute, Djimi Traore flicked a ball to the far post, where Cooper fired a half-volley that rolled wide of the far post. With just minutes remaining in regulation, Okoli set-up Barrett just outside the box but Barrett’s left-footed attempt was saved in the bottom corner.
Stefan Frei made three saves in his Sounders FC debut, stopping Graham Zusi’s long-range shot in the second minute and Dom Dwyer’s rebound attempt seconds later. In the 33rd minute, Dwyer blasted a left-footed shot from outside the box that Frei dived to save.
The match featured 40 combined fouls and five yellow cards between the two teams. Seattle held the advantage with 54.4-percent possession.
Sounders FC hosts Toronto FC on NBC Sports Network next Saturday. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m. PT on the Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field.
SEA – Chad Barrett (Clint Dempsey) 94+
Seattle Sounders FC – Stefan Frei, DeAndre Yedlin, Chad Marshall, Djimi Troare, Dylan Remick, Lamar Neagle (Sean Okoli 86′), Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Marco Pappa (Clint Dempsey 57′), Kenny Cooper (Chad Barrett 78′), Obafemi Martins.
Substitutes Not Used: Marcus Hahnemann, Zach Scott, Jalil Anibaba, Andy Rose.
TOTAL SHOTS: 14 (Cooper, 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (Barrett, 2); FOULS: 15 (Cooper, 4); OFFSIDE: 1 (Martins, 1); CORNER KICKS: 5 (Pappa, 3); SAVES: 3 (Frei, 3).
Sporting Kansas City – Eric Kronberg, Josh Gardner (Mechack Jerome 92+), Matt Besler, Aurelien Collin, Kevin Ellis, Lawrence Olum, Benny Feilhaber (Ike Opara 93+), Graham Zusi, C.J. Sapong, Jacob Peterson (Sal Zizzo 58′), Don Dwyer.
Substitutes Not Used: Andy Gruenebaum, Oriol Rossell, Jimmy Medranda, Claudio Bieler.
TOTAL SHOTS: 9 (Dwyer, 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (Dwyer, 2); FOULS: 25 (2 players, 5); OFFSIDE: 1 (Sapong, 1); CORNER KICKS: 7 (Zusi, 7); SAVES: 4 (Kronberg, 4).
KC – Aurelien Collin (caution) 16′
SEA – Kenny Cooper (caution) 34′
SEA – Osvaldo Alonso (caution) 44′
KC – Benny Feilhaber (caution) 46′
KC – C.J. Sapong (caution) 83′
Referee: Alan Kelly
Referee’s Assistants: Dimitar Chadarav; Kyle Longville
4th Official: William Niccolls
Time of Game: 1:53
All statistics contained in this box score are unofficial
*The attendance of 39,240 marked the largest crowd for a home opener in club history, extending the sellout streak to 89 consecutive matches.
* Seattle improved to 4-2-0 in regular-season openers, with all six matches played at CenturyLink Field. The shutout marked the club’s third on opening day.
* Chad Barrett’s goal marked his first as a Sounders FC player and 45th of his MLS career. His last goal came on June 29, 2013, against when New England tied Chivas USA, 1-1.
* Chad Barrett’s goal tied the club record for the latest goal scored, matching Djimi Traore’s 94th minute winner against Kansas City on May 8, 2013.
* Sounders FC extended its unbeaten streak against Sporting Kansas City to eight (7-0-1)regular-season games, including five stoppage time game-winners. The lone loss came in the first-ever matchup, a 1-0 defeat on April 11, 2009.
* Six newcomers made their Sounders FC debut: starters Stefan Frei, Chad Marshall, Marco Pappa and Kenny Cooper, and second-half substitutes Chad Barrett and Sean Okoli. Cooper took a team-high four shots.
* Clint Dempsey returned from a two-month loan with Fulham to play 33 minutes for Seattle, and he recorded the game-winning assist.
* Dylan Remick made the first start of his MLS career. He previously played 25 minutes at Colorado (10/5/13). Remick led Sounders FC with three assists in the 2014 preseason.
* Kansas City’s 25 fouls committed marked the most by an opponent in Sounders FC history.
Sigi Schmid – Sounders FC Head Coach
(Opening Statement…) “Obviously I am happy we got the win. One of the things we talked about going into the season was we wanted to be a team that would fight, scratch, and do everything we could until the end of the game and today was a good snapshot of that. The guys continued to fight and battle-I am very pleased we got a shutout. Shutouts were a little harder to come by at the end of last year than they normally are for our team, so I was pleased with that. I was pleased we played them to zero and pleased we came out with the victory.”
(On Chad Barrett’s debut…) “It’s one of the reasons we brought him in-he is an experienced forward and he has shown he can score goals in this league. He ended up getting two shots in the limited minutes he played. Not just him-Sean, Clint (Dempsey), and Sean Okoli-were all subs that came in and had an impact on the game for us. Chad’s one of those players who should know what to do in front of goal and he was able to do it today.”
(On Sean Okoli’s debut…) “I thought Sean was good. I talked to Sean before he came and said, ‘Look, try to get behind their defense’… I think he did that, got in behind [the defense], and on the goal he was involved in that initial build up as well… He has been improving all preseason. We knew he had some speed that could give Gardner some problems, that’s why I wanted him on the right. He’s gotten better each preseason game. He played as a forward at Wake Forest, so he’s learning a little more how to play wide. You’re not old or young; you’re either a good player or a bad a player.”
(On Clint Dempsey’s performance…) “I thought he was alright. He hasn’t really trained with us, but I like that him and [Obafemi Martins] were definitely looking for each other, looking to combine with each other, and that is something that will continue to get better as well.”
(On the importance of a season-opening win…) “I think it helps everybody. We had a number of guys out there-Dylan Remick, it was his first big test here at home. For Stefean Frei it’s been a while since he’s been in goal so it was a big test for him. For (Marco) Pappa, (Chad) Marshall, it was their first test out there in front of our crowd. I thought they held up very well. Wins like this are always great-it helps build momentum, it helps build confidence.”
(On the difference between this team from previous seasons…) “We didn’t sometimes play intense enough, sometimes not direct enough at the end of games… When you play a team like Kansas City, when you look at the number of fouls they committed, the other team steps up and puts pressure on the spaces behind the defense, and we didn’t really do a good job of exploiting that until the last 10 or 15 minutes of the second half. That’s something it took us a while to figure out, but we eventually figured out that is a way to get to them. That’s something that is different from teams in the past, maybe we didn’t figure that out.”
(On the emotional impact of the win…) “It sets a great tone. Whenever you have a dramatic victory like this, it pumps everybody up. You saw the players’ reactions on the field, you saw how thrilled they were. It’s just an indication for all the hard work they did during the game.”
(On another stoppage time game-winner…) “It seems to happen for us a lot against them. It’s what Peter Vermes said to me after the game, ‘You guys do this to us every time.’ Again, it’s a reflection of how close the league is. These guys are the defending champions and they haven’t been able to beat us in a number of years. The game they did beat us in was in penalty kicks. The parity is very, very close, but it’s also very satisfying for us to win… We really didn’t talk about it in terms of before the game or anything like, ‘Hey, this is a team we’ve scored late goals against.'”
(On Stefan Frei’s performance…) “I thought it was good. I thought there were some mistakes; there was a little miscommunication once between him and Djimi (Traore) on a ball. I thought he did well in terms of challenging and cutting off some crosses. For his first game there is going to be some nerves, for sure. But I thought he did well.”
(On Dylan Remick’s first MLS start…) “He did alright. I think he can play better. He would say that to you, as well. He knows he can play better than he played tonight. A little bit of nerves, a little bit of uncertainty, but that is something with more games it will go away.”
(On second half adjustments…) “I think we did a better job in the second half of keeping track of (Graham) Zusi. I thought in the first half Zusi slipped in behind our center midfielders a few times, and they did a better job of getting second balls. In the second half, I thought we did a better job of getting control of second balls in the midfield, especially. We had a better handle of where Zusi was, so when he got the ball he wasn’t as free to pick and choose his passes.”
(On replacement referee Alan Kelly…) “I thought he did well. I don’t have any complains about how he handled his job. I think KC was happy about it as well. I think they are just a team that commit something like 120 more fouls than we do in the season.”
(On using three subs up top…) “Our desire was to get fresh legs in-I thought (Martins) was doing alright, it was a little hard for him sometimes because he was a man on island out there-but by bringing on Dempsey, Barrett, Okoli we got fresh legs in the attacking position so we could maintain our pressure. With each guy, I told them to play in the space behind them and eventually that paid off for us.”
(On his immediate reaction to the goal…) “Instantaneous happiness. Joy. And a few other words I can’t say.”
(On Chad Marshall’s performance…) “I thought Chad did well. Obviously he is a guy that wins a lot of balls in the air for us. He had a little bit of an injury, so weren’t 100% sure he was going to play, but he played through that for us very well, but I think Chad was solid…. I think one of the things (Frei) brings to the game, as Chad does, is that they are very calming guys. They aren’t hyper guys and as a result it gives your team a calming effect that things are taken care of, which is good.”
Chad Barrett – Sounders FC Forward
(On the stoppage time history against Kansas City…) “I just heard all about it. Wow. That’s kind of cruel and unusual against Kansas City, but I really don’t care. I’m glad to be a part of that. We were fighting to the end. We really pushed in the last 10-15 minutes. I thought the guys that did come on really did a great job. Clint Dempsey did a great job. Sean Okoli did a great job and really provided a real resurgence that we needed. We were pressing. Obafemi martins did a great job to win that first ball. He took about four guys out including the keeper. Clint kept it alive and the ball just fell to me. I’ll take 10 of those a year.”
(On his first game with the Sounders…) “I was excited to just be on the bench, you know. The pregame festivities and just to see the crowd and the Emerald City Supporters’ section just yelling the entire game, it’s so loud, and then when I scored I couldn’t even hear myself screaming. I’m pretty sure I was screaming or I was going through puberty, one of the two. I couldn’t hear myself scream. I was telling the guys that haven’t scored here yet that it’s just an unbelievable feeling, especially with all 40,000 people staying until the very end.”
(On what he was thinking during the goal…) “You don’t think, just shoot. I just put myself in front of the goal. Clint Dempsey was unfortunate to miss the first time and the ball came right back to him and Lawrence Olum came back and he tried to not let Dempsey get a clean shot and it just came right back to me. I’m calling that one the white guy’s bicycle kick.”
Clint Dempsey – Sounders FC Midfielder
(On the win…) “Yeah, it was good for us to get the goal. Happy with the win, happy with the points.”
(On contributing to the goal and building some momentum…) “It was three points, that’s the most important thing. It was good to play a part in the goal-happy for Chad [Barrett] to get his first goal with the team. The momentum is the three points, that’s where you get the momentum from.”
(On being back in Seattle and playing at CenturyLink Field…) “Yeah, it’s great to be back in Seattle. The fans were awesome today. Even in the cold and rain, they came and showed their support, really pushed us on, and helped us keep fighting to the last minute. They played a part in our goal, as well.”
(On the win setting the tone for the season…) “It’s always good to start on a positive note, and three points is the best you can start, so we’re excited about that.”
(On coming into the game in the 60th minute…) “It was just up to Sigi [Schmid] and what he wanted to do, but with all the travel and stuff-getting in on Thursday after flying so much-we wanted to be a little bit smarter because if you look at the history of myself and some of the other players, people pick up injuries if you push too hard too quickly after long travel.”
(On playing all over the field…) “I was at the same position. I was a withdrawn forward the whole time. I get freedom to move around and impact the game in whatever way I can. I found some good spots on the field and was able to make some plays happen and, like I said, was happy to play a part in the goal.”
(On the depth of the team…) “It’s important for this team to have depth. That’s what’s going to help you to go far into the season and be successful because there will be times when there will be injuries and there will be times people will be called away for international duty, and players will need to step up. Depth will be an important part in how well we do this season.”
(On being scrappy and fighting to the end…) “You have to have that if you want to win something. It’s still early days, but getting a goal in injury time does show that you’re fighting to the end, but it’s a long season. I think your true character shows over time and I think it’s clawing your way back after conceding goals and also it’s being able to get goals in the final few minutes and hopefully we can do that this season.”
(On what he thought when his header hit the crossbar…) “Just try to get a foot on it. I tried to do a scissor kick, but I think I barely got anything on it. I was trying to score, to be honest with you, and was happy that it fell to Chad [Barrett] and finished it off.”
(On his early assessment of this year’s team…) “It’s too early to tell, but it’s a positive locker room, everybody is happy and in good spirits, fighting for each other, but it’s too early to tell. I’ve only been here two days.”
Brad Evans – Sounders FC Midfielder
(On team chemistry…) “Kansas City has very defined roles, anytime you keep a group of 10 or 11 players, you win a championship, you don’t make any changes you’re going to find yourself playing against a good team. Even if they’re playing with different players and a couple of guys who don’t play too regularly for them but they still know what’s on going on at that position. For us, I think we’re a little bit different, especially going into the first game this year I think we made a number of changes, style of play, formation is a little bit different than what we’ve done in the past. In saying that I thought there were good points today, created a number of chances. What I saidyesterday I think you’ll see our best soccer five, six, seven games down the road when everybody starts to jell and click.”
(On Okoli’s pro debut …) “He’s definitely surprised me, all the young guys have, Kovar as well. I’ve seen these guys for the past four years when they’ve been training with us. Last year I called it, those were the two guys we we’re going to sign. You’ve seen it, they both put extremely hard work this preseason staying after practice, getting extra work in and making sure they’re fit and game ready. No matter what you tell yourself coming into a MLS game, it’s that first breath and it’s difficult. But tonight I thought he made an impact, he knows the game, he’s athletic and fast; definitely got a bright future.”
(On first impressions of Sean Okoli…) “I came in a little bit late, but I heard positive things from the other guys that Okoli is tearing it up in a couple of games. Early on in the preseason I think it was a little bit of an adjustment. From what I saw coming in Tuscon, Charleston, came in the games made an impact, drew a penalty kick first game in Charleston. He’s been confident and I think that helps as well.”
DeAndre Yedlin – Sounders FC Defender
(On fighting all the way until the end…) “We showed it in preseason, carrying it through here, but it doesn’t stop here. Obviously this was the first game of the season, it’s great to get three points, now we just need to look forward to the first game and move along. Enjoy it, but don’t get too high off of it.”
(On how his ankle feels…) “It was alright. I got into one tackle in the first half that bothered a little bit, but it recovered after about a minute and half-two minutes, so that’s good information for me to know that I can keep going on if I feel it turn or twist.”
(On the perseverance of the team…) “That’s one of the reasons Sigi brought in so many new guys. He brought guys that are going to fight for the team. It’s great to see, amazing to be a part of seeing everybody’s fight and I think it’s something that’s going to carry us pretty far this year.”
(On the play of debut Homegrown player Sean Okoli…) “It was great. It was a proud moment, not just for him, but for me too. It’s crazy being reunited with him and I couldn’t help but smile when he was coming on the field because I know what that’s like to come and play for the first time. I’m sure it was an amazing feeling for him and I’m proud of him.”
Dylan Remick – Sounders FC Defender
(On his first start…) “I felt I had confidence, I felt I played well this preseason and all the teammates Brad, Ozzie, Djimi, Chad, DeAndre, they’re all so helpful help me get in the game, help me in preseason, sort of find my rhythm and feel comfortable playing with them, they just make it easy for me to play. I’m just fortunate they’re so helpful. I just took it from there, relishing the opportunity just enjoying it all.”
(On stepping out onto Xbox pitch for the first time…) “It was crazy, I’ve been in the booth and on the bench a few times but to actually be the one walking out when the Boom Boom clap goes and the national anthem. It’s just something I’ll never forget. One of those things that are pretty special and definitely have the adrenaline and chills going, so I got pretty pumped up for the game.”
Sean Okoli – Sounders FC Forward
(On his debut and setting up goal…) “When I came in the coaches told me to do the best I can and get behind the defense and try to make a impact. So I just tried to get the ball at my feet and get a couple of touches in. On the counter, Clint found me on the far side, and I just whipped the ball in, it was a mosh-pit in there so it was good to see our guys get on the end of it.”
(On being a local guy…) ” I swear I blacked out when it happened. It was a great feeling, seeing the fans going go nuts like that and to have us walkout with points it just a great feeling. It’s a lot different, when I was in the academy coming to the games I didn’t have any pressure on me, obviously I wasn’t suiting up or anything. So when I stepped on the field today I actually knew the fans were there and behind my back and that was a great feeling.”
(On noticing Head Coach Sigi Schmid’s growing confidence…) ” I hope so, I just go out there everyday and giving it my all and I think I’ve been doing ok but I got a lot more work to do and I’m ready to work.”
Peter Vermes – Sporting Kansas City Head Coach
(On the game …) “I thought we played very well. Coming in here, this is not an easy place to play being the first game of the season and their home opener. I thought we played very well for 93 minutes and 43 seconds. We did a really good job on both sides. Defensively we were very disciplined. We had one lapse in our defensive shape overall, and that was in the last 17 seconds. It’s unfortunate. We probably should’ve gotten a lot more coming out of this game because we had some really good chances as well, but that’s the way it goes. We’ve had this happen to us before. Four times. It is what it is. We always do a good job of rebounding and we’ll do the same thing again.”
(On what he saw develop on the last play …) “In midfield, we got ourselves out of shape. Two of our guys – out of the two of them, one of them should be at least holding. Both extended themselves and opened up the middle of the field. From that point on, it created a bit of a snowball effect. The ball goes out wide, everybody is trying to recover. It was good service into the box. The ball’s not cleared, bounces around and ends up in the back of the net. We almost had one very similar on their end earlier on in the game so it just fell to them.”
(On goalkeeper Eric Kronberg’s play …) “Played a great game. He has nothing to even be thinking about other than the fact that he played a very, very good game for us.”
(On roster choices going forward …) “We have five games in 15 days so we have to be able to use everybody at this time to get us something in all these games from a physical perspective. We’re trying to make sure we’re rotating our roster around.”
(On the message to the team to get ready for Wednesday’s Champions League game …) “We just go on to the next game. We have to learn from what happened.”
(On some No. 2s stepping in to play this early in the season …) “Like I said, the team played well. I don’t have any criticism for any of the guys, other than the fact that we had one lapse in the midfield late in the game. We should’ve been very smart and kept things compact, and at the end it fell apart, but outside of that, the team played really well.”
Graham Zusi – Sporting Kansas City Midfielder
(On the team’s performance…) “I thought for 90-plus minutes we were excellent, very hard to break down, had a couple chances of our own. Just a stupid mistake by me in the 93rd minute punished us and something that can’t happen.”
(On his involvement in Seattle goal…) “To be honest, a stupid play by me. There’s no need for me to try to split the D there and play a square ball in their half. That ball should be 20 rows into the stands. Just not a smart play by me.”
(On games being decided late against Seattle…) “Just the way the games between us go. It always seems to come down to the wire between us and for one reason or another they’ve been the team to come out on top.”
(On using this game to prepare for Wednesday’s game…) “I think we can take positives from it. If we’re that hard to play against and that hard to break down we’re going to come out on top in games like this more often than not. Defensively I thought we were very good; we can take that into Wednesday.”
Eric Kronberg – Sporting Kansas City Goalkeeper
(On the goal…) “It was a tough one. It was a cross into the six, so Besler’s right in front of me and I figured if he’s going to win it, he’ll hit it out so I went for it too and unluckily he kind of beat me to it and hit it straight up in the air. It’s just one of those plays where everyone has a little part in it and a breakdown, but I think for the most part the performance was solid and we have something to build on.”
(On the team’s performance…) “I think we were definitely pretty hard to break down and coming into a place like Seattle-it’s always a tough place to play-we had our chances too. I’m looking forward to the year. I think we definitely have a good team to build on and this performance was pretty solid all around.”
(On the opportunity to start the opener for the first time…) “It was almost amazing. A lot of excitement for sure, some nerves, but once you get out on the field you feel like every other day and you feel comfortable and confident. It’s a great place to play and just wish we could’ve gotten a result.”