Winning was lipstick, but the game was something of a pig.
That, at least, was the take from Peter Vagenas after his first start of the season in Sounders FC’s 1-0 win over Kansas City on Saturday.
“We were awful,” Vagenas said. “I don’t think we were very good at all, and that’s to be honest. I think that’s something that I’ve been trying to preach. I know the coaching staff has been trying to preach that we need to judge ourselves based on performance and not necessarily results.
“It’s easy to walk away from here and be excited about three points. But at the end of the day, if we play like that we are not going to make the playoffs in this league.”
The Sounders (2-1-1) started the game showing solid possession and passing. In the 10th minute, Fredy Montero and James Riley connected on consecutive passes that delivered the ball to Pat Noonan in space in front of the Kansas City goal, but Noonan’s shot went wide.
Three minutes later, Noonan passed to Montero, who fired a shot on goal, but it was knocked away by diving Kansas City keeper Jimmy Nielsen.
The chances slowed after that. The Sounders ended with five shots and put just two on goal. They seemed on the way to being shut out in back-to-back home games before Michael Fucito broke a 227-minute Qwest Field scoreless streak in stoppage time.
Afterward, coach Sigi Schmid was reserved in his assessment of the performance, although not quite as severe as Vagenas.
“I’ll always take a win,” he said. “… It felt good to win on a late goal. We played better than we did in Salt Lake (the previous week), but still not up to standards we set for ourselves.”
One of Schmid’s pregame decisions was to give Vagenas, an 11-year MLS veteran, his first start of the season in place of midfielder Brad Evans.
“Vagenas does a lot for us on the field,” Schmid said. “And he talks a lot on the field, so he makes people around him better.”
And Vagenas, who has a long history with Schmid dating back to UCLA and the Los Angeles Galaxy, was grateful for that.
“It’s good to be part of the 11, because you train all week and there are guys who are sitting in the stands, there are guys that are sitting on the bench, who are giving as much as I do and want to be out there just the same,” he said. “I was fortunate to be chosen this week and to be part of a win. I emphasized with the group: Let’s not pat ourselves on the back, because we lose four out of five games if we play like that.”