By CALEB SONNELAND
In what was largely not a match for the history books, the Seattle Sounders netted a late winner off the head of defender Jeff Parke to seal the win and three points over a struggling Sporting Kansas City side with both Steve Zakuani and O'Brian White in attendance.
With both teams coming off disappointing results from the week before, it took an unlikely hero in Parke to rally late and break the deadlock in a match lacking a real offensive threat.
For Sporting KC, the loss painfully resembles last season's result when Mike Fucito scored a dramatic late winner in the second minute of stoppage time to claim the points. Kansas City has proven to be a tough team to break down for the Sounders, and it's taken two improbable goal-scorers to do so in the last two meetings.
However, Seattle coach Sigi Schmid didn't let the level of offensive output affect his outlook on the overall result.
"Could we have played better? Yes. Do we like three points? Yes."
Seattle only tallied one shot on goal before the late winner in stoppage time, and Schmid will certainly be looking to get his offense clicking in the future.
"In the first half, there were two or three crosses that dropped in the box that we could have done better with, but in the second, I didn't think there was that much."
Weeks filled with injury have plagued Seattle with losses to key players in the Sounders' lineup. But Argentine midfielder Mauro Rosales provided Schmid with a formidable option after recovering from a hamstring injury that had kept him out of the last four games.
Sporting Kansas City manager Peter Vermes welcomed DP Omar Bravo back to his starting XI and fielded a side that included formidable players in Teal Bunbury and Kei Kamara.
Despite relatively attacking lineups in Seattle, the first 45 minutes passed, more or less, without any significant threat on goal as both sides struggled to find their feet and impose their presence on the match.
Teal Bunbury had few chances on the ball while Fredy Montero had little to work with going forward, and coaches Peter Vermes and Sigi Schmid were undoubtedly looking to change the complexion of the game at the break.
"I thought we were a little disjointed at the beginning in terms of how we were playing. We were a little bit cock-eyed. We had some good looks but we couldn't put the shots on goal," said Schmid who brought Nate Jaqua and Mike Fucito into the action in an effort to edge the difference in the match in the second half.
Sporting coach Peter Vermes responded by calling on CJ Sapong, Chance Meyers and Graham Zusi who were brought on to push the match in SKC's favor, but the substitutes did little to impose their presence on the match with the minutes they were given.
The game looked destined for a draw as 36,098 came out to Qwest Field to watch a cagey match that seemed unlikely to have a happy ending.
But in the 91st minute, Seattle won a corner, and despite only having clocked one shot on goal throughout the duration of the match, Jeff Parke rose highest to a Tyson Wahl cross and tucked away his header for the second goal of his seven-year MLS career.
"It was definitely an out-of-body experience, because I don't score that often" said Parke, whose last goal came back in 2004 when he was under contract with the New York Red Bulls.
"As a team, we deserved the points," Parke said. But in terms of offensive production, "it can be frustrating on all accounts. We give up goals, we scores goals, but it's important that we didn't give up any and got the win."
The Sounders will carry the victory into next week's clash with FC Dallas in its third game at Qwest Field in a row. The win shoots Seattle up to second in the West, however, the Sounders have played 12 matches (the second-highest number in the conference) and need to carry the momentum of this win if they are to continue their push for the playoffs.
The result could have been kinder to Kansas City, who registered more shots on target than Seattle, but Sporting KC remains rooted to the bottom of the Eastern Conference with only four points following four straight losses.
That said, Sporting KC has been on the road for every game this season but will play host to the Chicago Fire in its first home game in Week 10, looking to bounce back from what has been a wretched run of results.