The Seattle Sounders and Sporting Kansas City played to a stalemate, a 0-0 draw on Saturday night at CenturyLink Field.
These are my first impressions:
– Scoring is hard
A soccer field is big and its nets are small. When a game kicks off, there are 11 men between an attacking team and the opposing goal – in front of which stands the only player on the pitch who is allowed to use his hands.
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By the very nature of game itself, scoring a goal in soccer is a precious rarity, a temporary overturning of long odds.
Scoring is hard, especially when your opponent is as single-mindedly determined to prevent it as Sporting Kansas City was on Saturday night.
Kansas City designated player Graham Zusi, plagued by a nagging hamstring injury, started the game on the bench. Sporting forward Dom Dwyer was scratched from the starting lineup just minutes before kickoff with a neck injury.
Without two of its key attacking fulcrums, injury-depleted Sporting opted to barely even try to push forward.
Kansas City massed numbers behind the ball and surrendered most of the possession. It defended stubbornly and had no qualms about breaking up the rhythm of the game with timely fouls.
Attacking midfielder Benny Feilhaber, who entered the weekend as the top assist provider in MLS, spent much of the game camped in front of his back line, providing defensive cover.
– Sometimes, the numbers do tell the full story
First-half summary in two numbers: Seattle had 69.5 percent of the possession and zero shots on goal.
Windows of opportunity cracked open only to quickly slam shut again.
Tyrone Mears shook free on the right wing but his low cross was hacked clear. Chad Barrett found a crease but flubbed his shot. Lamar Neagle rose high for a header but angled his shot inches wide.
In the second half, Clint Dempsey got free at the back post, but the blur of Amadou Dia flashing across his face led to a distracted header over the bar.
Sporting sat back, content. Seattle patiently moved the ball around, waiting for openings that never came.
“We need a good balance between being aggressive and also keeping possession of the ball,” Sounders midfielder Gonzalo Pineda said earlier this week.
Saturday night, they erred on the side of the latter.
– This result excepted, it was a good weekend for the Sounders’ Shield hopes
A home draw is never ideal – especially one of the scoreless variety. But the out-of-town scoreboard brought some consolation.
Vancouver lost at Colorado and Dallas was upset by Montreal. Nine-man New England held on for a draw against D.C. and the Caleb Porter era is edging closer toward the brink after another Portland loss.
All things considered, the Sounders leapfrogged the Whitecaps to pull within a single point of first-place FCD – with a game in hand on both.
Seattle’s quest to retain the Supporters’ Shield received a boost, too. With that draw in Foxboro, the Sounders are now even with the Revs and two points back of league-leading D.C. United with 20 points from 11 games.