SEATTLE - Sigi Schmid used two of his three substitutes Saturday night at Qwest Field to bring on offensive players in a scoreless draw.
However, it was a pair of defenders that wound up providing the offensive touch to give the Sounders FC a stoppage time goal to top Sporting Kansas City for the second straight season in a 1-0 win for Seattle.
Tyson Wahl played a corner kick from the right side and Jeff Parke scored his first goal since June 12, 2004, in the third minute of second-half stoppage time to cap a defensive gem for the Sounders in their third shutout of the year.
“It came down to Jeff finishing and he’s a center back that doesn’t get too many goals,” said Wahl, who got his first assist of the season. “Our offensive players defended well, so it was a night some of our defenders had to win the game.”
The defensive group of Wahl, Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and James Riley, with Kasey Keller behind them in net and Osvaldo Alonso providing resistance from the midfield put a strong stop to an attack-minded Sporting Kansas City lineup.
With the potent strike-tandem of Omar Bravo and Teal Bunbury up top with the likes of Ryan Smith, Kai Kamara and Davy Arnaud in the midfield, Sporting KC was bringing out the firing squad to try to put a stop to their slow start to the season.
However, the visitors were only able to manage three first-half shots on goal and Keller was otherwise able to stomp out any other potential fires.
“Those guys are good players and tonight I thought defense in the back four or back five did well and Kasey did well,” Parke said. “As a team, I thought we deserved the points.”
Keller made one particularly key save in the first half, diving to his right to block a hard-charging shot off the right foot of Smith, then corralled the putback attempt by Bravo, who was making just his third appearance of the season due to injury.
“I thought they played alright. I thought Kennedy was good. I thought Tyson did well with Kamara and that’s a difficult match-up as well. And Ozzie at times has Bravo, so he did a good job,” Schmid said. “Our center backs did a good job of containing the two. I thought we matched up with them fairly well. In the first half I thought there were two or three that dropped into the box that we could have done better with, but in the second half, there wasn’t much.”
The game looked like it was destined for a scoreless draw when Seattle earned a stoppage-time corner kick. Roger Levesque initially thought the call was a throw-in and play was stopped to allow for the proper restart. Wahl then went to the corner and found Parke unmarked in the middle of the box, eight yards from the line. He redirected it inside the far post, bouncing it just out of the reach of Kansas City keeper Jimmy Nielsen, putting him in the unfamiliar position of celebrating a goal that he scored.
“It was definitely a bit of an out of body experience because I don’t score that often,” he said. “I’ve had my chances, but tonight was finally in the back of the net.”
The victory moves the Sounders to 4-3-5 on the season and makes them unbeaten in their last three, but it was their first win in the last four matches. It also moves them into second in the Western Conference standings with 17 points through 12 matches, trailing only the 23 points through 13 matches of the LA Galaxy.
With three matches in an eight-day stretch, the Sounders got off to a good start with three points.
“It was crucial. We would have been very disappointed with a 0-0 tie,” Wahl said. “We needed three points. We were fortunate to have that finish by Jeff to get the three points.”
The Sounders will host FC Dallas at Qwest Field on Wednesday and then head to Rio Tinto Stadium to face Real Salt Lake on Saturday. Those two teams meet Sunday in Dallas, with one of the teams leaping into second place and pushing the Sounders to third in the West.
Sounders FC - Jeff Parke (Tyson Wahl) 93+.
Sporting Kansas City - None.
Sounders FC - Alvaro Fernandez (caution) 44; Servando Carrasco (caution) 51; Mauro Rosales (caution) 64; Osvaldo Alonso (caution) 84.
Sporting Kansas City - Ryan Smith (caution) 49.
Sounders FC - Kasey Keller, James Riley, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Tyson Wahl, Servando Carrasco (Nate Jaqua 55), Osvaldo Alonso, Alvaro Fernandez, Mauro Rosales (Mike Fucito 69), Fredy Montero (Patrick Ianni 89), Roger Levesque.
Sporting Kansas City - Jimmy Nielsen, Michael Harrington, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Roger Espinoza, Craig Rocastle, Ryan Smith (Chance Myers 86), Kei Kamara, Davy Arnaud, Omar Bravo (Graham Zusi 76), Teal Bunbury (CJ Sapong 73).