Kansas City, Kan. Seattle coach Sigi Schmid had seen this drama play out three times before, so he made a bold prediction when he subbed in Mauro Rosales with a few minutes left in a scoreless game.
“I said, ‘We’re going to get one here,’” Schmid recalled. “And we did.”
Just in time, too.
Djimi Traore was in the right spot late in stoppage time Wednesday night, taking advantage of a breakdown by the Sporting Kansas City defense to score the game’s only goal and give the Seattle Sounders a 1-0 victory over the reigning Eastern Conference champions.
Seattle improved to 6-1-1 against Sporting KC, with four of those wins coming on goals in stoppage time. Seven of the Sounders’ 11 goals have come in the final 15 minutes of games.
“It’s sort of hard to figure out sometimes,” Schmid said with a shrug. “You just have a team you can’t get past and another team you have success against.”
The teams had played a defensive-minded game most of the night, but Seattle finally got an opportunity when Zach Scott threw the ball in with about four minutes gone in stoppage time.
The ball was deflected toward the net — the Sounders’ Brad Evans was there to contest it — and Sporting KC defender Aurelien Collin whiffed trying to clear it. The ball bounced to the feet of Traore, who slammed it into the back of the net with his off foot.
“It’s a big victory for us,” Traore said. “We worked hard during the game, you know. It was hard for us in the first half because sporting Kansas City was in good position, but in the second half we came back and worked hard and scored that goal.
“I don’t know if we deserved it,” he added, “but it was good, because we needed those points.”
The Sounders (2-3-3) lost five of their first seven games across all competitions, but are 2-0-3 in their last five, slowly climbing back into the Western Conference race.
Sporting KC (5-4-2) lost for the third time in its last four games.
“For as well as we played in the first half, that’s how bad we played in the second half,” Sporting KC’s Graham Zusi said. “It’s not anything they did. They didn’t really have too many sniffs at our goal.”