DC pleased with defensive effort, rue lack of cutting edge

Danny Cruz keeps the ball from Osvaldo Alonso

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WASHINGTON – It wasn’t exactly the result D.C. United were looking for, but a strong defensive performance from the Black and Red ensured a point by virtue of a 0-0 draw against a strong Seattle Sounders side at RFK Stadium.

“[Seattle] are a good team, they are a real team,” United manager Ben Olsen said after the match. “To keep them to zero goals is certainly a credit to the back four.”

D.C. earned a clean sheet on Saturday night even though defensive stalwart Brandon McDonald was suspended for the match. Canadian center back Dejan Jakovic stepped in and didn’t miss a beat, helping lead a defense that limited Seattle to just two shots on target throughout the game. Olsen was also forced to take Robbie Russell off in the second half because of injury, but even with the addition of Chris Korb, the backline held together to ensure that Seattle didn’t find the back of the net.

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“I think it’s down to everyone knowing their role on the field,” left back Daniel Woolard told MLSsoccer.com. “The coaching staff was really good with putting together a game plan, and we are all on the same page now.”

The key to shutting down the Sounders, and thereby earning the point, was limiting the touches for strikers Fredy Montero and David Estrada. Though Montero hasn’t scored yet this season, United needed to deny him chances on goal – and succeeded in doing so for the most part.

“I think [Emiliano Dudar] and [Jakovic] did really well shutting down their two up top,” goalkeeper Joe Willis said. “I think the back four frustrated them, and it showed.”

After conceding four times in the first two games of the season, United has drastically improved over their past three games, conceding just one goal and earning all five of their points in the process. Still, D.C. nearly managed to lose the game at the death, as former United defender Marc Burch sent a header from just inside the six-yard box off the bar during stoppage time.

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“We got pretty lucky,” Willis said. “I should have pushed it out a little wider, but it fell right to their player, and I was lucky the post was there to help me out.”

United, who failed in their bid to win back-to-back games in MLS play for the first time since 2009, had several decent chances in the second half to collect all three points, but were spurned at every opportunity. The lack of decisive final ball proved their undoing, but Olsen noted that a difference in the quality of opponent was partly to blame for a lack of goals.

“I think right now Seattle is a better team than Dallas,” Olsen said. “But it was one of those games where if we are a little bit sharper in the final third, we come out of here with three [points].”