Chad Barrett’s game-winning goal was knocked in from about a yard away. However, the opportunity actually began about 70 yards farther up the pitch when Osvaldo Alonso intercepted a pass that SKC midfielder Graham Zusi instantly regretted.
“A stupid play by me,” Zusi said. “There’s no need for me to try to split the D there and play a square ball in their half. That ball should be 20 rows into the stands.”
Instead, Alonso carried the ball to the center of the pitch before passing to midfielder Clint Dempsey, who contributed 33 minutes just three days after playing 90 with the United States national team in Cyprus.
Dempsey sent it on to Okoli, a Federal Way native in his professional debut, who launched a cross about 6 yards in front of the Kansas City goal. Sporting goalkeeper Eric Kronberg and defender Matt Besler both went for it, but neither could clear the ball out of danger. Instead, Dempsey got his head to it, knocking the ball off the crossbar before Barrett won the rebound and redirected it in.
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“You don’t think, just shoot,” said Barrett, who came from New England through the re-entry process. “I just put myself in front of the goal. Clint Dempsey was unfortunate to miss the first time … and it just came right back to me.”
Here's more from Barrett:
On the stoppage time history against Kansas City…) “I just heard all about it. Wow. That’s kind of cruel and unusual against Kansas City, but I really don’t care. I’m glad to be a part of that. We were fighting to the end. We really pushed in the last 10-15 minutes. I thought the guys that did come on really did a great job. Clint Dempsey did a great job. Sean Okoli did a great job and really provided a real resurgence that we needed. We were pressing. Obafemi martins did a great job to win that first ball. He took about four guys out including the keeper. Clint kept it alive and the ball just fell to me. I’ll take 10 of those a year.”
(On his first game with the Sounders...) “I was excited to just be on the bench, you know. The pregame festivities and just to see the crowd and the Emerald City Supporters’ section just yelling the entire game, it’s so loud, and then when I scored I couldn’t even hear myself screaming. I’m pretty sure I was screaming or I was going through puberty, one of the two. I couldn’t hear myself scream. I was telling the guys that haven’t scored here yet that it’s just an unbelievable feeling, especially with all 40,000 people staying until the very end.”
And more from other Sounders:
CLINT DEMPSEY(On contributing to the goal and building some momentum…) “It was three points, that’s the most important thing. It was good to play a part in the goal—happy for Chad [Barrett] to get his first goal with the team. The momentum is the three points, that’s where you get the momentum from.”
(On being back in Seattle and playing at CenturyLink Field…) “Yeah, it’s great to be back in Seattle. The fans were awesome today. Even in the cold and rain, they came and showed their support, really pushed us on, and helped us keep fighting to the last minute. They played a part in our goal, as well.”
(On the win setting the tone for the season…) “It’s always good to start on a positive note, and three points is the best you can start, so we’re excited about that.”
(On coming into the game in the 60th minute…) “It was just up to Sigi [Schmid] and what he wanted to do, but with all the travel and stuff—getting in on Thursday after flying so much—we wanted to be a little bit smarter because if you look at the history of myself and some of the other players, people pick up injuries if you push too hard too quickly after long travel.”
(On playing all over the field…) “I was at the same position. I was a withdrawn forward the whole time. I get freedom to move around and impact the game in whatever way I can. I found some good spots on the field and was able to make some plays happen and, like I said, was happy to play a part in the goal.”
(On the depth of the team…) “It’s important for this team to have depth. That’s what’s going to help you to go far into the season and be successful because there will be times when there will be injuries and there will be times people will be called away for international duty, and players will need to step up. Depth will be an important part in how well we do this season.”
(On being scrappy and fighting to the end…) “You have to have that if you want to win something. It’s still early days, but getting a goal in injury time does show that you’re fighting to the end, but it’s a long season. I think your true character shows over time and I think it’s clawing your way back after conceding goals and also it’s being able to get goals in the final few minutes and hopefully we can do that this season.”
(On what he thought when his header hit the crossbar…) “Just try to get a foot on it. I tried to do a scissor kick, but I think I barely got anything on it. I was trying to score, to be honest with you, and was happy that it fell to Chad [Barrett] and finished it off.”(On his early assessment of this year’s team…) “It’s too early to tell, but it’s a positive locker room, everybody is happy and in good spirits, fighting for each other, but it’s too early to tell. I’ve only been here two days.”
BRAD EVANS(On team chemistry…) “Kansas City has very defined roles, anytime you keep a group of 10 or 11 players, you win a championship, you don’t make any changes you’re going to find yourself playing against a good team. Even if they’re playing with different players and a couple of guys who don’t play too regularly for them but they still know what’s on going on at that position. For us, I think we’re a little bit different, especially going into the first game this year I think we made a number of changes, style of play, formation is a little bit different than what we’ve done in the past. In saying that I thought there were good points today, created a number of chances. What I said yesterday I think you’ll see our best soccer five, six, seven games down the road when everybody starts to jell and click.”
(On Okoli’s pro debut …) “He’s definitely surprised me, all the young guys have, Kovar as well. I’ve seen these guys for the past four years when they’ve been training with us. Last year I called it, those were the two guys we we’re going to sign. You’ve seen it, they both put extremely hard work this preseason staying after practice, getting extra work in and making sure they’re fit and game ready. No matter what you tell yourself coming into a MLS game, it’s that first breath and it’s difficult. But tonight I thought he made an impact, he knows the game, he’s athletic and fast; definitely got a bright future.”
(On first impressions of Sean Okoli…) “I came in a little bit late, but I heard positive things from the other guys that Okoli is tearing it up in a couple of games. Early on in the preseason I think it was a little bit of an adjustment. From what I saw coming in Tuscon, Charleston, came in the games made an impact, drew a penalty kick first game in Charleston. He’s been confident and I think that helps as well.”
DeANDRE YEDLIN(On fighting all the way until the end…) “We showed it in preseason, carrying it through here, but it doesn’t stop here. Obviously this was the first game of the season, it’s great to get three points, now we just need to look forward to the first game and move along. Enjoy it, but don’t get too high off of it.”
(On how his ankle feels…) “It was alright. I got into one tackle in the first half that bothered a little bit, but it recovered after about a minute and half-two minutes, so that’s good information for me to know that I can keep going on if I feel it turn or twist.”(On the perseverance of the team…) “That’s one of the reasons Sigi brought in so many new guys. He brought guys that are going to fight for the team. It’s great to see, amazing to be a part of seeing everybody’s fight and I think it’s something that’s going to carry us pretty far this year.”
(On the play of debut Homegrown player Sean Okoli…) “It was great. It was a proud moment, not just for him, but for me too. It’s crazy being reunited with him and I couldn’t help but smile when he was coming on the field because I know what that’s like to come and play for the first time. I’m sure it was an amazing feeling for him and I’m proud of him.”
DYLAN REMICK(On his first start…) “I felt I had confidence, I felt I played well this preseason and all the teammates Brad, Ozzie, Djimi, Chad, DeAndre, they’re all so helpful help me get in the game, help me in preseason, sort of find my rhythm and feel comfortable playing with them, they just make it easy for me to play. I’m just fortunate they’re so helpful. I just took it from there, relishing the opportunity just enjoying it all.”
(On stepping out onto Xbox pitch for the first time…) “It was crazy, I’ve been in the booth and on the bench a few times but to actually be the one walking out when the Boom Boom clap goes and the national anthem. It’s just something I’ll never forget. One of those things that are pretty special and definitely have the adrenaline and chills going, so I got pretty pumped up for the game.”
SEAN OKOLI(On his debut and setting up goal…) “When I came in the coaches told me to do the best I can and get behind the defense and try to make a impact. So I just tried to get the ball at my feet and get a couple of touches in. On the counter, Clint found me on the far side, and I just whipped the ball in, it was a mosh-pit in there so it was good to see our guys get on the end of it.”
(On being a local guy…) “ I swear I blacked out when it happened. It was a great feeling, seeing the fans going go nuts like that and to have us walkout with points it just a great feeling. It’s a lot different, when I was in the academy coming to the games I didn’t have any pressure on me, obviously I wasn’t suiting up or anything. So when I stepped on the field today I actually knew the fans were there and behind my back and that was a great feeling.”
(On noticing Head Coach Sigi Schmid’s growing confidence…) “ I hope so, I just go out there everyday and giving it my all and I think I’ve been doing ok but I got a lot more work to do and I’m ready to work.”