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Sounders offense reverts to old ways in scoreless draw with FC Dallas

Jayda Evans Seattle Times

There wasn’t an encore.

Not that a five-goal match is easy to follow.

A week after hanging five on CF Montreal at home, the Sounders reverted to creating chances and not getting one to nestle in the back of the net on the road against FC Dallas.

Seattle did have a strong defensive showing to collect a clean sheet with a 0-0 draw Saturday. The Sounders (1-3-3) haven’t won at Toyota Stadium since 2021.

“It wasn’t there,” Sounders right back Alex Roldan said. “From back-to-front, we did a good job off the goal kicks and working the ball up forward. It was just the final third. We need to be a little bit more cleaner — shift them a little bit more from left to right, that way we open up some gaps that we can expose.

“A constant message we’re being told by the coaches is we need to be more clinical in the final third.”

Sounders keeper Stefan Frei made his 300th regular-season appearance with Seattle. He used some finger-wagging to get the defense in line for a few tense moments created by Dallas (1-4-2). A second-half barrage from forward Petar Musa (49th minute), midfielder Paul Arriola (53rd) and Sebastian Lletget (53rd) should’ve led to at least one goal — the latter headed down an attempt inches wide of goal and Musa’s shot was saved by Frei.

Frei had two saves overall.

“We still have to clean some stuff up, but overall we’re trending in the right direction of getting back to where we were last year defensively,” said Sounders center back Jackson Ragen of conceding a league-fewest 32 goals. “Two clean sheets in a row is what we want to see.”

The setting was rare for the Sounders. Their trips to Dallas are usually amid oppressive heat or thunderstorms. A pristine field and inviting 75 degrees awaited Seattle on Saturday.

An active Raul Ruidiaz kept the Sounders dangerous in the attack. The reigning MLS player of the week helped set up midfielder Albert Rusnak in the 27th minute that went wide left. Seconds later, Ruidiaz had a shot from distance that Dallas keeper Maarten Paes easily saved.

Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan had a chance in the 41st minute go wide left. He released a scream to the skies, knowing it should’ve been the game’s opening goal.

“The weather was perfect, the field was perfect and they had a bunch of injuries,” Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer said in adding up things playing to his team’s favor. “Cristian’s chance, if he redirects it with his left [foot], it goes in. And Cristian in the second half, the ball he plays on Jordan [Morris’] head, I’ve seen Jordan score that. So, we created some quality chances.”

The sides were able to utilize game-changing players who’ve been limited to open the season due to injuries. Sounders midfielder Joao Paulo subbed on in the 65th minute for Josh Atencio. The Brazilian is managing a hip injury, playing 11 minutes in his season debut last week.

Dallas midfielder Asier Illarramendi (adductor) subbed on in the 69th minute. The Spaniard missed the past four matches.

But neither could help break open the match.

“JP was trying to find some passes forward into the pockets,” Schmetzer said. “Establishing a little bit more thought behind some of our attacking movements. So, he was OK.”

Schmetzer and his technical staff debated bringing Leo Chu on and going for the win. The winger has been out the past three matches with a knee injury.

But Chu not being fully fit could’ve made the Sounders vulnerable defensively.

“Emotionally, it seems like we left some points on the table,” Schmetzer said. “On the road, sometimes a point is a good point. That contradicts my feelings a little bit emotionally. But when I look at it, coming here and stealing a point isn’t a bad thing.”

Dallas FS wasn’t happy with the result, either.

“They’re mad and disappointed that we didn’t win,” Dallas coach Nico Estevez said. “And that’s good. I’m mad, too.”

Seattle returns to Lumen Field for a matchup against the Vancouver Whitecaps (4-1-1) next week. The Cascadia rival leads the Western Conference table.