Sounders FC

Redemption for Fucito, Sounders

They say that things tend to balance out over a long Major League Soccer season.

But seldom does what goes around come around quite as quickly, cleanly and almost eerily as it did Saturday for Sounders FC.

Seattle used a stoppage-time goal by reserve Michael Fucito to salvage a 1-0 win over Kansas City at Qwest Field – exactly one week after Real Salt Lake had snatched an apparent win from the Sounders with a stoppage time goal by one of its reserves.

“Things have a funny way of equalizing themselves out – not necessarily the next game,” goalkeeper Kasey Keller said. “I’m just very proud, very proud of the guys and happy that our fans could go home happy.”

That sellout crowd of 35,924 sat through 91 minutes of the kind of soccer that was becoming overly familiar: solid play and solid chances, but no goals.

Then, in the 92nd minute, Brad Evans – whose defensive error had branded him as the man most responsible for the previous week’s disappointment in Utah – found Fucito breaking behind the Kansas City defense on a throw in.

When the ball arrived at Fucito’s foot, he sent it on a single touch past Wizards goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen.

It was the first goal Kansas City had conceded this season, and the first MLS goal for the second-year man from Harvard.

“I saw Brad had the ball, and I just ran through trying to stretch (the Wizards’ defense), and no one was with me,” Fucito said. “He made a great throw right in my path. I turned, and I was one-on-one with the goalie. I just hit it and finished it well. It was unbelievable.”

The crowd erupted. The Sounders celebrated. And almost before anyone quite realized it, Kansas City had kicked off, streaked past the Seattle defense, and Chance Myers was dribbling the ball through open space with only Keller between him and the goal.

Myers fired on target, but Keller made the victory-preserving save.

“We just thought the game was over, I think, or were a little slow to react,” Keller said. “It was a good play by them, and I was just happy I was able to make the save because it would obviously be a totally different atmosphere right now if we would have conceded there. It’s all part of that learning curve, because I thought for the most part we did very well on concentrating: on not letting easy throw ins, on not letting easy free kicks. It would have been a shame to let it down there.”

By preserving the win, the Sounders moved to 2-1-1 this season with a pair of tightly spaced road games up: at FC Dallas on Thursday and at Toronto FC one week from today. Kansas City suffered its first loss after a 2-0 start.

In individual terms, the win allowed Fucito to revel in the hero’s role for the first time as a professional. And teammate after teammate remarked on how happy they were for him because of all of his hard work while practicing with the team last season and then earning a second contract after being released.

The win also put a smile back on the face of Evans, who lost his man on the decisive corner kick at Salt Lake last week and then lost his starting job to Peter Vagenas on Saturday.

“It has been a tough week for Brad,” Sounders coach Sig Schmid said. “He takes things pretty personal and pretty deep. He was still carrying a lot of responsibility in the early part of the week. … For sure, Brad is not out of our plans, and he showed that by contributing on the goal.”

Evans admitted that his week ended better than it began.

“The first couple days were tough. I took things pretty hard,” he said. “Talking to other players on other teams and the coaches helped. … I thought I came on and made a good contribution. Whether it’s coming off the bench or starting, whatever I can do to help get three points is what I’m going to do.”

Don Ruiz, 253-597-8808

don.ruiz@thenewstribune.com

blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer

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