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Sporting K.C. completes season sweep of Seattle Sounders

By Maggie Vanoni Seattle Times

For just the second time this season, the Seattle Sounders (11-7-5) dropped a match at home.

Last time, the defeat was at the hands of Seattle’s Northwest rivals, the Portland Timbers.

However, this time, this defeat, well, the sting was a little more bitter as it was given to the Sounders by Sporting Kansas City (7-9-7), which is ranked eight spots below the Sounders in the Western Conference.

Sporting K.C. defeated the Sounders, 3-2, for the second time this season, marking its first victory at CenturyLink Field and its first regular-season sweep over Seattle since 2016.

For a team that held an undefeated record for the first nine home matches of the season, the Sounders on Sunday struggled in the first half to complete scoring drives and was unable to match its opponent’s energetic momentum until the second half. The defeat marks the fifth time this season the Sounders have dropped a game when trailing at the half.

In May, behind forward Johnny Russell’s hat trick, SKC beat Seattle, 3-2, at Children’s Mercy Park – SKC’s first home victory over Seattle since 2017.

Sunday, SKC was led by midfielder Felipe Gutierrez.

Gutierrez opened the scoring in the 12th minute with a goal that flew into the right corner of the net, and Sounders’ goalie Stefan Frei’s dive was too slow to defend. Gutierrez’s second goal came in the 33rd minute off a penalty kick that launched into the top right corner of the net, far over the hands of Frei.

Whether it was a lack of team connection from Seattle on offense or the high-level aggression from SKC, the Sounders had trouble finding holes in SKC’s defense. With each attempt Seattle made toward the goal, Sporting K.C. exhibited twice the effort on defense to stop the attack, forcing balls to fly out of bounds and deflect out to center field.

Seattle scored its first goal less than a minute into the second half from forward Jordan Morris. With a smooth shot into the right corner pocket of the net, Morris’ goal closed Seattle’s deficit to one at 2-1.

The small sliver of comfort didn’t last long with SKC’s scoring a little more than 10 minutes later from Erik Hurtado in the 58th minute for a 3-1 advantage.

However, Seattle didn’t show signs backing off its attack attempts. Morris created another one-goal deficit in the 82nd minute. Dribbling up from center field, Morris found himself unguarded, a rare lapse of defense from SKC, and pushed forward clearing a shot from right outside the penalty box to make the score 3-2.

Seattle currently sits in second place in the Western Conference with 38 points, compared to SKC’s 10th-place position with 25 points.

Despite just being 16 years old, midfielder Danny Leyva made his fourth start of his Sounders career Sunday.

In place of Roman Torres, who is sitting out game one of a 10-game suspension, was Xavier Arreaga. The match Sunday marked the defender’s fourth start and sixth match appearance for the season. He ended the match with two shots and two fouls through playing the full match.

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