Sporting Kansas City manager Peter Vermes used a makeshift lineup in Wednesday night’s game at Seattle, and the subs stole a point in the standings with a 1-1 draw.
With Sporting playing the second of five matches in a 14-day stretch from coast to coast, Vermes did not start the club’s two leading goal scorers, C.J. Sapong and Kei Kamara, who had combined for 10 of the club’s 19 goals, along with several other regulars.
Kamara, who just returned from international duty with Sierra Leone, entered the game in the 66th minute for Jacob Peterson, who scored Kansas City’s goal in the first half, and Sapong came on in the 85th minute as Sporting made a final push to pull out the win in front of 46,392 at Seattle’s Qwest Field.
“Before we started this trip, I told the guys we were going to have to go deep into the roster, and everybody is going to have to make an impact,” Vermes said by phone. “So if your name gets called, you’re going to have to fill your role.
“Seattle is a very good team, and this is a very difficult place to play. Our guys fought, they battled, and I’m very, very pleased at getting the point in the fashion in which we did it and in short recovery time.”
Sporting had an opportunity to pull out a win after Seattle’s Alvaro Fernandez received a red card for his illegal tackle of Roger Espinoza in the final minutes of stoppage time, but Kansas City was unable to capitalize on having the man advantage.
Seattle, which beat Kansas City in stoppage time in both meetings last year, nearly pulled out a late victory on Fredy Montero’s shot that after goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen got a glove on it, the ball bounced off the goal post before defender Lawrence Olum cleared it out of danger.
The tie ended Sporting’s string of five straight losses to Seattle since winning the first match against Sounders FC in 2009, and allowed Sporting KC, 9-3-2, to move within one point of first-place D.C. United in the Eastern Conference going into Saturday night’s game at Philadelphia.
Seattle, which got a brilliant scissors-kick goal from Patrick Ianni in the first half, fell to 7-5-3 and is winless in its last six matches.
Peterson, making his second straight start in place of injured Bobby Convey, scored his first goal of the season in the eighth minute. Peterson fielded a ball headed to his feet by defender Aurelien Collin, and on the short hop, drilled it from the right side of the penalty area into the upper left-hand corner of the goal.
Ianni, parked in front of Sporting defender Michael Harrington, took a free kick from Mauro Rosales in the 15th minute, and Nielsen had no chance at stopping Ianni’s first goal of the season in his 100th MLS game.
Kansas City reserve forward Soony Saad, making his first career start and appearing in his second game of the season, came close to regaining the lead in the 18th minute when his left-footer grazed the top of the crossbar.
In addition to Kamara and Sapong, midfielder Graham Zusi, who is tied for the MLS lead in assists with eight; and defender Seth Sinovic did not start, though Zusi subbed for Peterson Joseph in the 50th minute. Saad, Joseph and Michael Thomas of Aquinas High School made their first MLS starts, and for Thomas, it was his first MLS appearance.
“I told the guys, with the hard work they’re doing on a regular basis in training, they deserve an opportunity,” Vermes said, “and they should feel like this is a great chance for them, and they deserve it, so go out and take advantage of it. All those guys did very, very well in the game.”
Collin, active in the Kansas City defense, picked up a yellow card for tripping Rosales in the 16th minute, denying a breakaway. Collin also banged heads with Seattle’s Alex Caskey contesting a ball in the air. Caskey required medical treatment on the field to stop some bleeding.
Olum was shown a yellow card early in the second half for tripping former Kansas City Wizards star Eddie Johnson, and Nielsen was hit with a caution for stalling while wiping some turf from his eyes in the 58th minute.