After conceding a barrage of goals the past month, you’d think the Sounders FC would be happy about seeing a clean sheet.
But not the one it managed against FC Dallas on Wednesday night.
The solid defending meant little for the Sounders when it couldn’t find the offense to match. They settled for scoreless draw before an announced crowd of 37,722 at CenturyLink Field.
“I’m sure we’ll be happy about that at some point,” said Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer, whose team has conceded 19 goals since a 1-0 shutout win against Houston in July.
The Sounders seemed amped for Wednesday’s match after Sunday’s 4-2 home win against the New York Red Bulls. But only when winger Victor Rodriguez was substituted into the match in the 65th minute and forward Jordan Morris entered in the 74th was the team able to create their most exciting moments of the game.
Rodriguez, who made his second consecutive appearance after missing 10 matches with a hamstring injury, took a whack at the goal in the 66th minute and had another shot collected by goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez. Morris, who has scored five goals in the team’s past 10 games, skimmed the outside of the net with a shot in the box on his first touch of the ball in the 75th minute.
The Sounders (14-9-8) had to play with a man down when defender Xavier Arreaga was shown his second yellow card of the match in the 86th minute for a tactical foul against forward Michael Barrios. Arreaga will be suspended for the team’s next game. Dallas (12-11-8) missed the ensuing free kick.
Morris closed the Sounders’ attempts to break the deadlock with a setup on a free kick in stoppage time that Rodriguez couldn’t control.
“We put in the work defensively to keep the clean sheet,” Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan said. “Honestly, I thought we were a little bit better when we had 10 men. That’s unfortunate. If we would’ve played the way we played the last 5-10 minutes, we could’ve put ourselves in a good spot.”
Gonzalez upset the crowd by slowing down the game in the final 20 minutes. The first apparent stall was Gonzalez getting medical treatment for a cut above his eye. He twice slowly lined up for a goal kicks to a chorus of boos.
The Sounders were visibly frustrated as they found it difficult to counter Dallas’ defense.
“We knew they that were a good team on the ball and that they would make our lives difficult by stretching the field, making the field big and playing in between lines,” said Roldan, whose team lost 2-1 at Dallas in June. “I don’t think we anticipated them being that deep.”
Schmetzer made two starting lineup changes following Sunday’s win against New York. He swapped Morris and left back Brad Smith, putting Jones on the left wing with Nouhou replacing Smith.
The teams had five shots each in the opening half. The Sounders edged Dallas in possession of the ball, midfielder Joevin Jones starting Seattle’s near-chances at scoring in the fifth minute by sending in a good cross that teammates couldn’t corral. Raul Ruidiaz had two opportunities later in the half that were snuffed out by Dallas.
Dallas disrupted the chances with good positioning. Offensively, forward Dominique Badji and defender Bressan saw their on-target attempts denied by Sounders keeper Stefan Frei. He finished with three saves.
“That whole first half, I think the entire squad was a little dysfunctional,” Schmetzer said. “It always seemed like something little was off. It could’ve been heavy legs. It could’ve been having to change the (starting) team again. But overall, I thought the second half, we were much, much better. We did create some good chances and it’s a shame we couldn’t get one.”
Dallas, a younger squad, was aggressive in trying to secure a win to keep its playoff hopes alive in the Western Conference. The draw moved them up to the seventh and final postseason slot. Seattle retained its narrow second-place standing in the West, now leading Minnesota by two points.
The Sounders are off Thursday and travel Friday for a match against D.C. United on Sunday. Arreaga’s suspension will put a crimp on a needed win since backup center back Jonathan Campbell is out with a calf strain.
“(We’re) disappointed that they couldn’t find a way to score goals,” Schmetzer said. “We have to get them some way to release all of the negativity because we know the next game is coming and the next game is not going to be easy.”