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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Sounders were finally healthy with FC Dallas in town, but they had to settle for the draw

Jayda Evans Seattle Times

SEATTLE – Perhaps it was unrealistic to think Saturday would be a bounty of goals for the Sounders. Coach Brian Schmetzer had all his first-choice players available for the first time in months, yet some hadn’t been back a week while others were still shaking off rust from recent injuries.

The ideal starting lineup with midfielder Nico Lodeiro and forward Jordan Morris on the bench against FC Dallas was promising. The stars subbed on after the hour mark but the announced crowd of 32,753 at Lumen Field departed into the night still parched for goals.

The end result was a 1-1 draw. Dallas (8-9-6) hasn’t won in Seattle since May 2011, a string of 17 matches through all competitions.

“Guys were doing everything they could to try and score,” Schmetzer said. “We will be able to win some of these games, I believe that. We’ll get better defensively. Eleven clean sheets is certainly the story line, but the last few games we’ve given up goals that we could do a better job at.

“And guys have to start scoring goals. Raul (Ruidiaz) has got to start scoring, Jordan, we’ve got to get guys to start scoring goals. That’ll push us through.”

The attempts were there Saturday. The Sounders outshot Dallas 17-3, watching five get blocked and two saved.

Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan had a beautiful cross into the box that Morris headed down at goal in the 78th minute. Dallas keeper Maarten Paes made the save and Lodeiro had the rebound shot that was blocked on the goal line. Midfielder Obed Vargas even had a supreme shot from 30 yards out that curled past the upper right corner of net in the 90th minute.

But in the end it was a similar end to past matches where the Sounders couldn’t finish. The team posted three goals in wins against Vancouver and St. Louis City and a draw in Charlotte.

“Guys have come up with a stat that we’re top of the league in expected goals,” Schmetzer said. “It doesn’t matter. We will sort through some of the ideas that we’ve given them. We’ve tried to add to some of those, but everything isn’t broken. We do need fine tuning.”

The Sounders (10-8-6) got on the board with an own goal from Dallas defender Sam Junqua. But the defensive mishap wouldn’t have happened without Roldan making a run to connect with an assist from Leo Chu inches outside the 6-yard box.

Excitement from the goal in the 32nd minute was lowered to a hush 10 minutes later. FCD striker Bernard Kamungo headed a goal from the spot past keeper Stefan Frei, who was slow to move into position to make the save.

It was easy work for Dallas as the Sounders didn’t defend any part of the buildup toward goal. Sebastian Lletget had an open cross into the box to set up Kamungo’s third goal of the season.

“It was a hard game, but we tried to win,” Chu said. “It was about us. We tried more (shots) than them and we played better. But it happens in soccer.”

Fatigue was likely the issue in the decision making. Schmetzer only made four lineup changes from the one that lost 2-0 in San Jose on Wednesday.

Saturday’s match was the third overall in an eight-day span. In addition to Lodeiro and Morris being on the bench, Frei (concussion) and Roldan (international duty) made a return to the starting lineup. The keeper missed the past two starts.

USMNT forward Jesus Ferreira didn’t make Dallas’ 20-player game day roster.

Lodeiro subbed on in the 66th minute for Joao Paulo and replaced Albert Rusnak as the central midfielder. The latter dropped back a line to play alongside Vargas. Morris replaced Chu in the 71st minute and played on the left wing.

The Sounders dropped to fourth in Western Conference standings.

MLS is shutting down regular-season competitions for a month to make way for Leagues Cup. The monthlong tournament features all of Mexico’s Liga MX clubs against MLS teams. Seattle opens pool play on the road against Real Salt Lake next Saturday.

“Scoring goals is the hardest thing in our sport,” Schmetzer said. “The Leagues Cup is interesting because our next league match is against Atlanta in August, which seems like a very, very, long ways away. But it gives us an opportunity to try and get our team right and scoring goals.”