For 61 minutes, the Sounders FC played a man down against the Kansas City Wizards. For 51 minutes, they did it as though they were playing 11-on-11. But Davy Arnaud struck a shot from 26 yards out to give the Wizards a 1-0 win in front of a sell-out crowd of 28,746 at Qwest Field.
Kasey Keller was issued a red card ejection after a handball outside the penalty box prevented Herculez Gomez from getting a goal-scoring opportunity in the 29th minute, leaving league pool keeper Ben Dragavon in front of the net for the remainder of the game.
“I haven’t been sent off in 17 years, so it felt kind of strange when I saw that red card come out. But rules are rules, it hit me in the arms and I was sent off,” Keller said. “I just did not see Kansas scoring at all. We were by far the better team in the second half. We outshot them, outplayed them, out-possession, out-everything. You would have thought we were the team with the advantage. On that side I’m extremely proud of the effort the team put forward in an adverse situation.”
With backup keeper Chris Eylander recovering from a knee injury, Dragavon was brought in for the fourth straight week as an extreme hardship call-up. It was his first league game since playing August 10, 2008, with the Sounders in the USL in a 3-1 loss to the Minnesota Thunder.
“When you play a man down for that amount of time, it’s difficult,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “When we got organized I thought we played well in the second half, even though we were a man down. I’m really proud of how we played and how we managed the game in the second half.”
The Sounders FC outshot the Wizards 6-4 in the second half, but could not manage to get one past Kansas City goalkeeper Kevin Hartman.
In first-half stoppage time, Fredy Montero eluded three Kansas City defenders and tried to loop a shot from distance, but Hartman skied for the ball and pulled it out of the air for the save.
Seattle also had a great opportunity in the 65th minute when the ball got free along the left side of Kansas City’s goal. Nate Jaqua beat Hartman to the ball and dribbled back to 10 yards out before crossing a pass to Brad Evans for a shot 14 yards, but Hartman deflected it clear for a corner kick in what Schmid called a “world-class save.”
In the 77th minute, Dragavon was tested with a shot by Jack Jewsbury and Dragavon lunged to his right to get a hand on it for a dramatic save.
But minutes later Jewsbury dropped the ball off to Arnaud for the game-winning goal.
“It took a great goal to beat us tonight,” Sounders FC defender Tyrone Marshall said. “It showed our character that we were never going to give up – we were going to fight to the bitter end. And I thought we did a great job tonight and it’s unfortunate that they scored a cracker and we weren’t able to put the ball in the back of the net.”
Added Schmid, “I’m most proud that we played a man down for 60 to 65 minutes and Kansas City were celebrating quite extensively at the end of the game. That shows how much respect we’ve already garnered in this league. If they’re playing a man up and win a squeaker and they’re happy, that’s good for us.”
Seattle fell to 3-1-0 with the loss and plays Saturday on the road against Chivas USA. Kansas City improved to 2-2-0 with the victory.