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March 8, 2014
• CenturyLink Field, Seattle, Washington
Referee: A. Kelly
• Attendance: 39240
C. Barrett 90'+
Shots on Target
Hope you enjoyed the commentary as much as I enjoyed providing it (which was a considerable amount). Enjoyable start to the MLS season, except for fans of the reigning champions. Stay tuned for match coverage of the opener and all the weekend's other matches. We'll also have more MLS live commentaries throughout the season.
90' + 5'
Sporting had one last gasp, but that's the end of the match.
90' + 4'
Goal Chad Barrett
GOAL SOUNDERS! Alonso intercepted a pass, surged forward and went hard to Dempsey's feet. Dempsey moved it outside to Okoli. The rookie put in an excellent cross. Several players, including the keeper, went down in the box as Dempsey headed against the crossbar. But he took it off the cross bar and it's Barrett who gets the last touch to put it in.
90' + 3'
90' + 3'
Then vindication for your fearless live commentator with Benny Feilhaber jogging off and being replaced by defender Ike Opara.
90' + 2'
On that corner for Sporting, Dwyer tried to get a diving header on Zusi's ball but can't quite get there. Just as I say Sporting would take a draw, some chances start going the team's way.
90' + 1'
90' + 1'
Nearly a disaster for Seattle! Frei comes to punch a cross but Traore knocks it away and Dwyer had an obstructed chance at goal.
Sporting not in any rush to take a throw-in. There are four minutes of stoppage time, and the visitors would probably be all right getting a draw out of Century Link.
A long, long Dylan Remick cross has to be dealt with, and Seattle wins a corner kick. Brad Evans takes the corner, but Dwyer helps the defensive efforts with a clearance.
Lamar Neagle was solid today, and Sounders homegrown Sean Okoli makes his professional debut.
Down to the other side, Dwyer beats his man and puts in a low cross across the box. Traore clears again. He's had a very nice game in my eyes.
Oh, excellent ball from Dempsey on the right-hand side to Martins, but the forward is offside. It's actually a pretty easy call for the assistant to make, and he correctly raised the flag.
Yellow Card C.J. Sapong
Sporting built an attack, but Sapong was offside on a ball over the top. He heard the whistle and still booted the ball. He gets his name in the book for his troubles.
Dempsey had the ball atop the 18, took it to his left and was dispossesed by Olum.
Besler's long throw is flicked on by Colin but Frei saves. He boots it long right awway and Martins gets it. Nothing for him this time, but he's starting to get into the game a bit more.
Kenny Cooper wasn't bad today, but it wasn't a dazzling debut. He and Martins will definitely have to keep working on that partnership.
Best free kick Sporting has had all day as Zusi finds the space between the defense and the keeper and Traore deals with it awkwardly.
Zusi is back, by the way, runs through a foul and gets a free kick after no advantage materializes. In my eyes, Alan Kelly has had a good match.
Sounders fould again and wanted the advantage played. It gets pulled back instead.
Sounders have been a bit stronger with Dempsey on the pitch but still trouble in the final third for the hosts.
Zusi went down and stayed there but is getting back up slowly. Nope, now he's back down. He jogs off, so he'll probably be able to continue.
Oh, chance for Cooper who smashes it wide. Ball is flicked on to Cooper at the back post and he nearly tucks it into the corner.
Benny Feilhaber is down just off the field and getting attention from the Sporting KC trainers. Looks like he rolled his ankle trying to challenge Dempsey.
Another free kick from midfield wasted by Sporting Kansas City. They don't seem to be able to get in sync on set pieces today.
21 fouls on Sporting Kansas City at this point, two shy of the record for most fouls by a Sounders opponent according to the TV broadcast.
Cooper's ball from Dempsey wasn't a good one. Way too much on it and forced Dempsey to go a lot wider than he would've wanted to.
Another set piece opportunity for Sporting, which takes a deflection and turns into a Seattle counter. Cooper laid off for Dempsey who put the ball in, but it was cleared.
Incident here with Alonso, already on a yellow, coming up on a free kick Sporting was trying to take. Zusi wanted him to be booked, but he wasn't.
Here comes Clint Dempsey, replacing Marco Pappa.
Looks like Clint Dempsey is about to enter the match. We'll see if he can make the difference today. It would probably do wonders for his confidence, which might be flagging after a tough time during the past few months at his various stops.
Well, just as I say that Yedlin springs Neagle down the right side. Neagle takes the shot, which is saved. It falls in Martins' vacinity, but he can't get a touch on it and Sporting gets it cleared.
It's raining harder now at Century Link. Both teams misfiring in the final third. Something has to give eventually, you'd think.
Jacob Peterson can't get on the end of a Feilhaber pass. He's getting into decent spaces but can't seem to get the ball at his feet.
Matt Besler attempts the long throw, but Alonso saw that one coming. He's eventually dragged down by Colin and things will kind of reset here.
Yellow Card Benny Feilhaber
That didn't take long. Benny Feilhaber called for his fifth foul of the game and given a yellow card.
No changes at the break. We're back in action.
SKC whistled for 16 fouls in the first half, 11 called on Seattle.
Not really anything too notable in the Don Garber interview. They're hoping to get the ref situation worked out. Also mentions wanting to be a "league of choice" where players want to play.
Don Garber will be on the TV broadcast at halftime. We'll make a joke about him being in midseason form when he makes a predictable comment.
The prematch "talking points" haven't provided much to talk about. Referee has been good. Goalkeepers haven't had any trouble. SKC's fullbacks doing fine.
"He'll be coming" Sigi Schmid says in the halftime interview when asked when he'll bring on Clint Dempsey.
It's halftime! The 2014 MLS season still waits for its first goal.
Yellow Card Osvaldo Alonso
Dom Dwyer jumped in and intercepted a trap attempt and was able to win a free kick (and get Alonso booked). Marshall clears the ensuing free kick. He's been solid back there.
Lamar Neagle is back on the right side and gets in a collision with Josh Gardner. Sporting's fullbacks have been tested but so far have been good enough for a pasing grade.
Think we're seeing some first-game jitters, but not in the traditional sense of a lot of gaffes. The game still hasn't quite settled, nobody wants to hold. It's all about the attack, which has made for fun viewing.
Graham Zusi's set pieces still seem to be in preseason form as his last two corners have been cleared at the near post.
Dom Dwyer does a nice job keeping possession and his cross is deflected out for a corner. Corner is cleared by Remick. Dwyer been active in the first half as he looks to improve upon last year's season when he tormented USL PRO but couldn't always do the same in MLS.
Yellow Card Kenny Cooper
Kenny Cooper tosses an elbow at Matt Besler and gets his name in the book.
I also believe someone on the broadcast said "We're going to sound like a broken horse" when talking about Zusi getting space in the hole behind the forwards. He's getting a lot of space there, but I'm not sure that's the expression.
Good chance for Sporting! Zusi finds space again, Dom Dwyer able to get a shot. Frei with a good save to stave off the visitors.
Kronberg seeing his first action of the day here in the past few minutes. Looking good.
Marco Pappa making himself known, makes a nice one-two with Yedlin with the ball cleared by Colin. He gets on the end of the clearance and fires in a shot that goes out for a corner.
Corner for Sporting. Frei punches away and also gets C.J. Sapong's considerable shoulder into his chest. That's a foul, and it's called.
DeAndre Yedlin had decided he was going to beat Josh Gardner, but the SKC left back was on top of things and poked the ball away. Seems a wise strategy to go for the inexperienced fullbacks rather than go at Matt Besler and Aurelien Colin.
Seattle gets it back and Neagle blasts it over. When Dempsey is ready to go, it's probably Neagle who will lose his spot in the starting XI. Still, he's going to get plenty of time as both a sub and when Dempsey is at the World Cup.
Fans at CenturyLink doing the "Seattle" "Sounders" call and response, and it seems to have spurred the home team to action as it breaks but the attack is offside.
Lamar Neagle is trying to get behind Ellis on the right side of the SKC back line. He's doing a decent job, winning a corner, but it's easily cleared by the visitors.
New season, same Aurelien Colin. On a yellow card, he's again involved, mistiming a tackle. He escapes a second booking.
Sporting with a free kick in the middle of the field and Josh Gardner tries to go for goal. Tries is the word to key in on there with it not finding the target.
Yellow Card Aurellien Collin
The referee involved again as Aurelien Colin takes out Obafemi Martins' back leg and is rightly given a yellow card.
Well, the Seattle founds are demanding a penalty kick, and it looks like it could've been given. The corner wasn't cleared and Brad Evans was pulled down by C.J. Sapong after the SKC forward tumbled to the ground.
Seattle wins a corner with Lamar Neagle sending in a long free kick that's cleared by C.J. Sapong.
Seattle is going to have to figure out how to keep Graham Zusi from getting so much space in the center of the field. He again has plenty of time to make a decision and nearly threaded a pass through.
Both teams' big center backs make some good plays in the 11th with Traore and Colin both using their powers given from having shaved heads to clean things up at the back. (Today's theme is hair)
Kevin Ellis, the Sporting RB, had a giveaway. He a homegrown player who has been with the team for a few years, but this is a big stage for him.
Pappa is another new addition for Seattle, hoping to recapture the MLS form he had with Chicago before trying his luck in the Dutch league and returning to the U.S. this offseason.
Graham Zusi has his hair pulled back in a bun today while DeAndre Yedlin is sporting a striking new yellow look. Meanwhile Marco Pappa (skiped in the front) puts in a shot off target.
We've also had our first foul of the season. So far, the replacement refs aren't ruining the league.
Graham Zusi is getting space early in the middle in the hole behind the forwards. This time he finds C.J. Sapong whose cross is nabbed by Frei.
Good action so far, definitely the type of curtain-raiser MLS would have wanted.
Already a shot on the other end as well with Kenny Cooper attempting his first ever shot as a Sounder. It doesn't trouble the keeper.
Now Yedlin slips allowing Sporting to get an effort. Feilhaber plays in Zusi, whose shot is stopped by Frei. The rebound is given but it ends up out for a corner kick.
Aurelain Colin slips making a clearance, reminding us the slick turf could certainly factor today.
Both teams wearing their usual colors with the Sounders in "rave" green and Sporting Kansas City in sky blue.
Alan Kelly, a former FIFA referee in Ireland, blows his whistle, and we're underway.
National anthem time! Big flag, fireworks, singing fans, the works. Seattle fans begin to unveil their tifo. It's almost time for the 2014 MLS season to kick off.
Typical Seattle day at CenturyLink, a mist permeating the air and fans wrapped up in ponchos and jackets.
The teams are in the tunnel and about to enter Century Link Field.
Also keep in mind Sporting Kansas City is playing the first of five matches in 15 days with a tough CONCACAF Champions League match against Liga MX leaders Cruz Azul looming next week. Chance Myers, Seth Sinovic and Paulo Nagamura all miss this match with injuries.
We're into NBC Sports Network's prematch coverage, which will last another 15 minutes or so. Remember today's match will be overseen by replacement officials after PRO and the regular referees couldn't reach an agreement.
Clint Dempsey is on Seattle's bench, returning from a loan with Fulham and the United States' 2-0 friendly loss against Ukraine in Cyprus.
Sounders XI: Stefan Frei; DeAndre Yedlin, Chad Marshall, Djimi Traore, Dylan Remick; Marco Pappa, Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Lamar Neagle; Kenny Cooper, Obafemi Martins
The Sounders did a lot of manuvering in the offseason, shedding Eddie Johnson, Mauro Rosales and Michael Gspurning, but brought in some other plays to bolster the squad.
Sporting's XI today: Eric Kronberg; Kevin Ellis, Aurelien Collin, Besler (C), Josh Gardner; Lawrence Olum, Benny Feilhaber, Graham Zusi; C.J. Sapong, Dom Dwyer, Jacob Peterson.
Sporting Kansas City, of course, is coming off a MLS Cup-winning season and made few changes in the offseason. The most notable difference is Eric Kronberg taking the goalkeeping duties after Jimmy Nielsen's retirement.
Hi everyone. Jon Arnold here ready to take you through the 2014 MLS Season's opening match between the Seattle Sounders and Sporting Kansas City.
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