Djimi Traore’s first goal in Major League Soccer changed a game Wednesday, and perhaps the Seattle Sounders’ season outlook as well.
Traore’s goal came in the 94th minute — the latest ever for Seattle in MLS play — and it shockingly turned what might have been an encouraging draw for the Sounders into a joyous 1-0 victory over Sporting Kansas City in Kansas City, Kan.
“I feel great, you know,” Traore told KONG-TV afterward. “I think we deserve it. We work hard during the game for 90 minutes, and I think that goal was good for the team. We need something to take some points away from home. It’s a good victory against a great team. I hope it’s the beginning of something.”
The case could be made that something already had begun. Since being eliminated from CONCACAF Champions League, Seattle is 2-0-2 over its past four MLS games and will fly home today with four points from a two-game Eastern trip.
“It’s important for our team,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “We have eight points over our last four games, so we’re averaging two points a game, which is what we
need to do to put ourselves back in the running.”
In a continuation of the theme of the season, Schmid once again cobbled together a lineup without would-be starters such as Obafemi Martins, Shalrie Joseph, Steve Zakuani, DeAndre Yedlin and Lamar Neagle.
Given that, the club might have found some consolation in salvaging a draw against the Eastern Conference leaders before a sellout crowd of 18,602 at Sporting Park.
However, just seconds ahead of the final whistle, the Sounders transformed the result into a victory.
The play began with a Zach Scott throw-in that skimmed low into the penalty area, where Brad Evans flicked it to the front of the SKC goal. Defender Aurelien Collin whiffed on his attempted clearance, and the ball continued through to Traore, who beat reigning MLS goalkeeper of the year Jimmy Nielsen from 7 yards.
The goal was enough because Seattle goalkeeper Michael Gspurning recorded his third shutout of the season, all coming over this four-game unbeaten string.
The win moved the Sounders to 6-1-1 in league play against Kansas City (5-4-2). This also was the fourth time the winning goal came in stoppage time. One of those included the previous latest MLS goal for the Sounders: a Jeff Parke strike in the 93rd minute of a 2011 meeting.
Seattle (2-3-3) returns home to meet the San Jose Earthquakes at 1 p.m. Saturday at CenturyLink Field.
Reserve goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann will be ineligible for that game after receiving a red card for dissent from the bench during the 24th minute Wednesday.