SEATTLE (AP) No risk, no reward – that’s how Nuno Andre Coelho saw it.
Coelho scored on a long shot in the 73rd minute and goalkeeper Tim Melia came up with saves on three dangerous chances to help Sporting Kansas City beat the Seattle Sounders 1-0 on Sunday in the opener for both teams.
Coelho fired his goal from 25 yards out. Goalkeeper Stefan Frei dove and got a hand on the shot at the left post, but it rolled off him and into the net.
“If you don’t believe, you’re never going to take a chance,” said defender Coelho, a native of Portugal who signed with Sporting on Jan. 26 after playing last season in Turkey. “And if you don’t take chances, you’re never going to score. So I took a chance, and I scored.
“The important thing is we got three points, and we’re going to keep working,” Coelho added. “Obviously, winning games outside of home is not easy. But we came here with a plan, and we executed.”
Melia stopped consecutive chances in the 15th minute – first a free kick by Clint Dempsey from 26 yards away, then a header by Chad Marshall from inside the 6-yard box.
In the 53rd minute, Seattle’s Andrea Ivanschitz fired from the top left side of the penalty area, and Melia leaped to deflect it. The ball went off the crossbar and the Sounders’ Nelson Valdez, but his bicycle kick from inside the 6 went over the top.
For the day, Seattle got off just eight shots to KC’s 14.
“Defensively, the team did a really good job,” said Melia, who had eight shutouts and a 1.22 goals-against average last season. “The guys did such a good job pressing for the ball and being organized defensively, I didn’t have to do much throughout the game. Our midfield was pressing really high, so no one had any time on the ball. Our big guys in the back, it was a really impressive performance.”
After Seattle’s two opportunities in the 15th minute, midfielder Connor Hallisey had a chance to put Sporting on top in the 21st when he took the ball 1-on-1 into the penalty area. But Frei denied him with a sliding save.
Hallisey was on the receiving end of a slide tackle by Sounder defender Oniel Fisher in the 41st minute. Fisher was shown a straight red card by referee Alan Kelly, and Seattle played the final 49 minutes of the match with 10 men.
The Sounders were coming off a 3-1 loss at Club America in Mexico City on Wednesday, the second leg of a CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal series that the Mexican side won on aggregate, 5-3. Even so, Seattle coach Sigi Schmid liked much of what he saw on Sunday.
“When the teams were even, I thought we were the better team,” Schmid said. “I thought we created the better chances. If we bury those chances, goals change games. And I thought we created some chances that were dangerous, even playing a man down.”
Kansas City, a charter member of the league in 1996, is now 13-5-3 in season openers. That’s more wins than any MLS team. It has four straight results against the Sounders, including two victories and a tie in 2015.
“Listen, in this league, whenever you get a win it’s huge,” Sporting coach Peter Vermies said. “Sigi does a great job with that team. They’re always well organized. So getting a result in the first game of the season is big points for us, no doubt.”