The Sounders FC had a grimy and rewarding trip to Kansas City on Sunday, Sept. 26.
The club collected its first win at Sporting Kansas City’s Children’s Mercy Park since 2013 with a 2-1 result.
The key was coach Brian Schmetzer’s lineup. He used his first-choice back line and returned to the two-forwards up top pairing with Raul Ruidiaz and Will Bruin that opened the season.
Bruin is unbeaten in his 11 starts this season and entered Sunday’s game with a 6-0-3 record when starting alongside Ruidiaz.
The Sounders leapfrogged SKC for the coveted first-place spot in MLS Western Conference standings with the win. The Sounders (14-5-6) have nine matches remaining and have a game in hand against Sporting (13-6-7).
SKC should’ve been called for a penalty in the half-hour mark against Bruin in the box. But as Bruin contested, referee Joseph Dickerson made clear he wasn’t going to get the call.
Seconds later, midfielder Cristian Roldan made it a moot point. The play started with a take-away by Josh Atencio off a sloppy backfooted pass from Kansas City defender Graham Zusi.
Atencio lobbed a pass to wingback Brad Smith, who dribbled to the box for a line-drive cross to Roldan. The Californian pinged a right-footed shot in the net in the 31st minute.
Bruin finally got a goal in the 55th minute. Sporting, again, gave up the ball in the midfield and the defense was in a scramble in front of goal, Ruidiaz threatening to shoot first.
SKC keeper Tim Melia swiped at that attempt, forcing Ruidiaz to readjust but lose the ball. Bruin used his height to connect with the ball in air and head into goal.
Bruin has two goals this season.
Ruidiaz continued to pressure Melia, finishing with four shots. The Peruvian’s last MLS goal was in Dallas on Aug. 8.
Although some defending was suspect, the Wizards did pepper the Sounders’ defense with attempts as the match progressed. The club had nine corner kicks after not having any in the opening half.
Sporting’s goal was from captain Johnny Russell in the 60th minute. SKC had a free kick that bounced into open space in the box.
Russell was in the right spot to hook a shot off Sounders keeper Stefan Frei and into the net.
Russell has scored in his past four home matches. He also slotted one in during SKC’s 3-1 win against Seattle at Lumen Field in July. But that was against Stefan Cleveland due to Frei’s knee injury that developed blood clots.
Frei had two saves.
Sounders defender Yeimar Gomez Andrade and wingback Alex Roldan had one of their better matches on the right side. SKC striker Daniel Salloi leads his team with 13 goals and six assists this season. The Hungarian XX.
Seattle defender Nouhou returned to the starting lineup. After opening the season with Best XI-caliber play, he suffered an adductor injury and wasn’t selected to start in the Leagues Cup final Wednesday.
Nouhou was shown a yellow card in the 17th minute for a hard tackle.
Seattle concludes its run of three-matches in eight days by hosting the Colorado Rapids at Lumen Field on Sunday. The Rapids (12-4-9) are third in the West. Colorado has been off since a draw against Toronto FC on Saturday.