Wednesday night’s clash with Sporting Kansas City at CenturyLink Field was just the type of game where Patrick Ianni has been known to shine.
The Sounders FC defender is typically at his best in physical battles, and the confrontation with Kansas City was seemingly the perfect night for him to make his first appearance since being sidelined with back spasms on May 5.
His side volley from 15 yards out off a Mauro Rosales free kick only went to emphasize that this was his night and that the back spasms were behind him.
“We were concerned about his fitness depending how the game goes, but I thought he held up well fitness-wise,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “Obviously the physical nature of the game is something that he can deal with and play to. So I thought it went well.”
The Sounders improved to 4-1-2 in Ianni’s seven starts this season. They’ve allowed just three goals in those seven matches.
The Sounders were prepared for the physicality of the match against Kansas City, a team known for aggressive play. And while Schmid’s hand was forced by a red card to Jhon Kennedy Hurtado in a loss to the Montreal Impact on Saturday, the move to put Ianni back in the lineup was perfectly suited for the match-up.
Even if things got more rugged than they planned.
“We knew it was going to be a physical match, but maybe it was a bit more so than we thought,” Ianni said, nearly holding back a smile.
One could forgive Ianni for beaming after the match.
In his first time back on the pitch, he scored his third goal for the Sounders and did so in fittingly dramatic fashion.
His first came on an over-the-shoulder shot in a 2009 match against the Houston Dynamo at CenturyLink Field, earning the Sounders a 1-0 victory.
The second came on a tap-in off a corner kick that helped knock off Real Salt Lake to end their 29-game home unbeaten streak.
Wednesday’s highlight-reel jumping, side volley equalized after an early Kansas City goal caught everyone by surprise. It was the type of goal scored by a dynamic forward, not a bruising center back.
Ianni isn’t about to try to take that role away from Seattle’s forwards though.
“I’m not a goalscorer. Fredy Montero is a goalscorer. Eddie Johnson is a goalscorer. I was happy to get that one back for us,” he said. “It just kind of snuck through to me. I thought, if it comes all the way through, I’m just going to get good contact on it and put it on frame and fortunately it went in.”
Ianni and the Sounders meet the Portland Timbers in their first of three matches against their Cascadia rivals on Sunday at Jeld-Wen Field in Portland. Kickoff is slated for 2 pm Pacific with national television coverage on ESPN and the radio broadcast locally on 97.3 KIRO FM.