How long has it been since the Seattle Sounders struck first in an MLS match? It's impossible to say really (actually, it's been six matches, dating back to June 21 against the New York Red Bulls), but one thing has been made clear over the past couple of months: The Sounders are as good as it gets when it comes to battling adversity and overcoming deficits to secure victory.
Saturday night's match against Sporting Kansas City was no exception.
Earlier in the week, Seattle was forced to overcome a three-match losing streak (consisting of one MLS match, one CONCACAF match and a Manchester United friendly) in order to advance to the group stages of the Champions League tournament. It took 120 minutes, but the Sounders secured the advancement and looked to get back on track to another long and impressive unbeaten run.
Kansas City, who came into the match riding a 14-game unbeaten streak of their own, had other plans. KC scored in the 20th minute and carried the lead through much of the match, as Seattle once again faced agonizing problems in their finishing ability.
It seemed obvious, as the two clubs approached the 90 minute mark, that Kansas City would take the win and that Seattle would be left with more questions to answer and facing the reality of a long mid-summer slump.
Enter Mauro Rosales.
In the 90th minute, Rosales took charge and advantage of a defensive mishandle in Kansas City's box and rocketed a shot through traffic into the corner. The late heroics, it seemed, would guarantee the single-point draw in Kansas City. That's certainly the best you can hope for on the road.
Two minutes later, Rosales found the ball again and single-handedly took it deep into the attacking half. At the top of the box, as defensive players swarmed him from all sides (for good reason), Rosales slid the ball off to Mike Fucito. Fucito flicked it to Lamar Neagle, who took the low shot that went off the post and into the net.
In the last four minutes of play, Seattle overcame yet another deficit and regained their hopes of Supporters' Shield glory once again.
Sounders boss Sigi Schmidt was thrilled with the result: “I was a little bit concerned because we had seemed to have fallen out of rhythm,” he said after the match. "But then Mauro ends up making two great plays, one where he ends up scoring himself and the other one where Lamar gets it; it’s great.”
He added: "Tonight was a real test of our character."
If yesterday's match was a test for Seattle, then it's safe to say that they passed with flying colors. The only question remaining: Will Seattle ever score first in MLS play? Still, at this point, it looks like it might not matter at all.