SEATTLE (AP) — Clint Dempsey scored on a header in the 36th minute, and the Seattle Sounders stretched their unbeaten streak to eight games with a 1-0 victory against Sporting Kansas City on Saturday.
The win lifted Seattle (10-7-7, 37 points) into a tie with Kansas City atop the Western Conference. Sporting (9-5-10, 37 points), which was coming off a penalty-kick shootout win against San Jose in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals on Wednesday night, lost a nine-game MLS unbeaten streak and a club record-tying 13-game overall unbeaten run.
“It’s confidence — that’s what happens when you get on a streak like we’re on,” Dempsey said of Seattle’s current 5-0-3 run. “There are defining moments of the season when a team has to dig deep and show a lot of character. The moments that stand out to me are being 3-0 down versus New England and coming back and drawing that game, and being 3-0 down to D.C. United and coming back to win 4-3.
“I think those type of gut-check moments are when a team could fold, but we showed resilience and character. That helps with momentum.”
Dempsey’s goal was his team-leading 10th of the season and third in the last two games.
After regaining control of the ball high on the right wing side, Jordan Morris took it toward the end line and floated a cross into the penalty area. Dempsey met it 8 yards in front of the net and headed it into the back right corner past KC goalkeeper Tim Melia.
“It was a great ball from Jordan. I just tried to get good contact on the ball and was able to do that,” Dempsey said. “It was perfect pace. I don’t have to do much, just redirect it a little bit.”
Goalkeeper Stefan Frei picked up his fourth straight shutout, a club record. The Sounders extended their shutout streak to 400 minutes, breaking the club record of 379.
“A record like that is only achievable as a team,” Frei said. “There’s offense and defense, and sometimes, people try to focus too much on dividing the teams into whatever players’ roles are. But we think the goalkeeper is the first attacker, and the striker is the first defender. So we’re all on the same page when we try to do something offensively and defensively.”
Kansas City coach Peter Vermes was not displeased with his team’s play, despite not getting a result.
“I don’t think we got worked over by any means,” he said. “We were good on the ball. The only area I didn’t think we were good today was we really weren’t dangerous in the final third. We didn’t put a ton of pressure on them around the goal. Other than that, I thought our game was good. They had one chance, and they scored.”
The Sounders had not defeated Kansas City since the 2014 season opener, going 0-4-2 and getting outscored 9-1 since then, including a 3-0 loss at Kansas City on May 17.