The defense was much better last night, and the overall game play was good on the road for the most part, but for the second year in a row KC left Seattle with nothing after conceding a late winner off a corner. Putting out a lineup that saw Omar Bravo and Davy Arnaud paired in midfield with Craig Rocastle, I think many fans were worried about the way the defense would handle Seattle. But the defense stepped up and did a good job of shutting down the Sounders offense after giving up 4 last week in LA.
KC actually had the best chance early, when Ryan Smith got played in on goal against Kasey Keller. Keller saved Smith's effort and then collected the rebound after a shot from Omar Bravo. Seattle controlled much of the possession, but KC were able to ping the ball around themselves, keeping possession for good portions of the first and second half. The Sounders best chance of the first half came in the 20th minute when Alvaro Fernandez chipped a ball into the box for Mauro Rosales, whose header went just over the bar landing on the top of the net. Throughout the rest of the half, KC held out defensively, keeping Seattle from getting many looks at all on goal.
In the second half, KC dontinued to get forward on occasions, many of these came from Roger Espinoza and Michael Harrington racing down the wings (as they should have been doing all season in the 4-3-3 KC runs. In the 51st minute, Espinoza was almost free down the wing in what would have been a nice 2v2 situation for KC, but Servando Carrasco committed a tactical foul, pulling back on Espinoza as he was pulling away, drawing a yellow, but killing the scoring opportunity. Jimmy Nielsen found himself busier in the second half, having to come off his line a few times to punch the ball away. One such incident was in the 58th off a free kick. Nielsen punched the first effort, but not far enough and the ball came back into the box where Nielsen beat Fredy Montero to the ball, punching it further this time and catching Montero in the process. The rebound was then deflected out for a corner. Seattle continued to be the aggressive side, but KC had their attacks, but really failed to put Keller under much pressure. A nice tackle by Matt Besler in the 83rd on last year's hero, Michael Fucito helped keep the shutout. By this point I think most fans were thinking and hoping that the team would be able to hang on and get out of town with a point, ending the team's 4 game losing streak. Unfortunately, KC's defense finally broke in second half stoppage time off a corner from Tyson Wahl. Jeff Parke got up and headed the ball into the back of the net at Nielsen's back post. Espinoza was Parke's mark, but got "picked" while trying to get around Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and never recovered. CJ Sapong, who was in a free role on the corner was unable to get to the ball before Parke did. And unfortunately Nielsen did not have anyone standing on the back post, or else they'd probably had been able to clear it off the line. KC had one late opportunity off of another corner, but at the back post all KC could do was head the ball up into the air where it was easy pickings for Keller.
KC falls to another loss, now 1-6-1 on the season. This is probably the most gut wrenching one, especially since KC had play so stout defensively shutting down the Sounders attacks, forcing Neilsen to only have to make 1 save. But as has been happening lately, the offense is starting to sputter, they haven't scored a goal themselves since Kei Kamara's PK in New England, and haven't scored in the run of play since Kamara's first goal in that game. Teal Bunbury was virtually invisible for much of the game, Bravo didn't have near as many touches in the offensive third as he needed to have, and Smith seemed to dribble into trouble too often. For the way the attack has played earlier this season, it is starting to get very worrisome. They now have a short week, flying back to KC today before playing New England in a US Open Cup qualifier on Wednesday and heading out to Colorado for a game next Saturday.
I do want to post one last thing about last night's game. Myself and many others have been very critical of the referees in MLS, but I want to give credit to Geoff Gamble, who reffed his first MLS game last night. I thought Gamble did a very good job of controlling the game and letting the players play. He let the players decide the game and didn't let it get out of hand.
Wizards Man of the Match - Craig Rocastle - When I saw the lineup I was worried Rocastle would be left out to dry the way our defensive midfielder has been for most of this season. But Rocastle did a good job of shutting down the middle of the field and supporting the central defenders.
Player Ratings - Nielsen 6, Harrington 5, Collin 5, Besler 5, Espinoza 6, Rocastle 7, Arnaud 5, Bravo 4, Smith 4, Bunbury 3, Kamara 4. Subs Sapong 4, Zusi 4, Myers NR.