After a pre-game injury to its second-leading scorer as well as missing several other starters, Sporting KC, which played Wednesday, left the Clink thrilled Saturday night with a 0-0 draw against a lackluster effort from the Sounders.
The Sounders didn’t look nearly as sharp as they did in a 2-0 win at Vancouver, finishing with just a single shot on goal, that an 82nd-minute try by Chad Barrett in front of the goal when he took a bicycle-kick feed from Brad Evans but struck weakly with his lower leg.
Barrett, MLS player of the week for his brace against the Whitecaps, started his second game in a row for Obafemi Martins (leg bruise), whose speed and ballhandling might have been useful against Sporting’s conservative play.
“They were bunkered in,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said. “Right from the beginning of the game they were trying to kill the game when they were taking 25, 30 seconds for every goal kick. We needed to move our play forward . . . and put a little more pressure on them.
“In the second half, we had really clean looks – (Lamar) Neagle really early on and the one by Chad Barrett. In a game like this you’re not really going to get 10 or 15 chances. Maybe you will get one or two and you need to finish them when you can. That didn’t fall for us today.”
Sporting KC’s Dom Dwyer was pulled from the lineup minutes before the game with a neck injury, and USMNT star Graham Zusi, recovering from a concussion, came in only as a late-game substitute. So the plan was clear: Play it safe, especially in the final minutes. Dwyer’s sub at forward was Jimmy Medranda, who had not played in the previous six games.
Seattle (6-3-2) had a 7-1-1 series lead over KC that had six wins in 90th minute or later, including last season when Barrett scored in the 94th minute for a 1-0 triumph. But it was KC that nearly scored late when Benny Feilhaber had a clean look from distance, but GK Stefan Frei’s leap managed to push the shot over the crossbar for his only difficult save.
Playing the first of five games in their next six at home, the Sounders saw a chance to take advantage of a weakened foe, but was ineffective against Sporting’s 1-5-4 desperation set-up. KC (4-2-6) is winless in nine consecutive MLS matches against Seattle, the longest such streak versus any team in club history.
Clint Dempsey had a goal or an assist in 10 consecutive games dating back to October, but his chance create a four-way tie for the MLS record was denied by Sporting’s defense.
The Sounders host Colorado at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the second of three home matches in nine days.