Sounders, Real Salt Lake play to scoreless MLS draw
SEATTLE – Two Major League Soccer teams equally eager for a crucial late-season win canceled out into a scoreless draw Thursday night at Qwest Field.
Needing points in a cutthroat push to the playoffs, Seattle Sounders FC hosted defending league champion Real Salt Lake, but neither side could break through in front of 36,078 fans.
Seattle, which had won three straight league games at home, hoped for more than one point at home but still extended an unbeaten run against Western Conference opponents to six. Against domestic competition, the Sounders are on a 7-1-3 stretch.
The visitors, returning to the scene of last year’s MLS Cup championship, would’ve taken over first place in the league standings for the first time in franchise history with a win.
Seattle (9-9-6) survived the game’s biggest scare in the 32nd minute, when Salt Lake (12-4-8) was granted a penalty kick after Sounders defender Jeff Parke stumbled and then tripped opposing speedster Robbie Findley in the penalty box. A forward on the U.S. men’s national team at this summer’s FIFA World Cup, Findley stepped up to take the spot kick, but his poor effort was right down the middle and saved by goalkeeper Kasey Keller.
The home team controlled more of the action in the first half, behind the attacking foursome of Fredy Montero, Nate Jaqua, Alvaro Fernandez and Steve Zakuani. Despite owning most of the possession and outshooting the visitors 5-3 at the break, Seattle rarely tested Salt Lake’s backup goalkeeper Kyle Reynish, who started in place of the injured Nick Rimando.
Before Thursday’s kickoff, RSL had only loss once in the last 18 games (11-1-6), but came into the game a pedestrian 3-4-4 on the road.
Salt Lake also came in to the game with a league-high plus-21 goal differential, boasting the most goals scored in MLS (37) and also the fewest allowed (16).
The Sounders have four consecutive road games next up before month’s end, all to be played within 12 days. Two are in MLS (at Columbus on Sept. 18 and at Chicago on Sept. 25) and the two others are in the CONCACAF Champions League (at Costa Rican club Saprissa on Tuesday and at Mexico’s Monterrey on Sept. 22). … Rimando, an MLS all-star, was a late scratch with an Achilles injury. Rookie defender Chris Schuler started for suspended all-star Jamison Olave (yellow card accumulation).