SEATTLE — Playing a man down for 60 minutes and with a back four that featured two natural midfielders, the Seattle Sounders were able to salvage a 0-0 tie with Real Salt Lake at CenturyLink Field on Wednesday.
Seattle were forced to scramble after defender Zach Scott was shown his second yellow card in the 30th minute. The defender – who earned his first booking 10 minutes in for pulling Fabián Espíndola back on a potential breakaway – came in high, late and from behind on Javiar Morales to earn his marching orders. Sigi Schmid had to compensate by moving Brad Evans – normally a central midfielder – into central defense, and bringing in converted midfielder Mike Seamon to play right back. It was Seamon’s first action of the year.
Rather than open the game up, however, the card and subsequent lineup changes seemed to take the starch out of the visitors. RSL looked content to knock the ball around for most of the final hour, and at times it was Seattle who showed more endeavor. They pushed forward on counterattacks throughout the second half, but never really had a clear look at Nick Rimando’s net.
Come the game’s final 10 minutes, however, RSL finally woke up. Driven by rookie attacker Sebastian Velasquez, they began peppering Seattle ‘keeper Michael Gspurning with shots.
First, Velasquez set up Tony Beltran in the 84th minute after a neat passing sequence, the first touch in the box they’d earned in the second half. But Beltran’s shot was easily handled.
Defender Chris Schuler got a look of his own just into stoppage time, making a nice turn to get off a left-footed shot between a couple defenders that forced Gspurning into a sprawling save.
The ‘keeper saved his best for last. Velasquez got loose 12 yards from net, and fired low toward the back post. His shot deflected off of Seattle’s Andy Rose and seemed destined for net, but Gspurning somehow got a leg to it to preserve the point.
With the result RSL (17-11-5, 56 points) remain in second place in the Western Conference. Their final regular-season game is on Oct. 27 when they host Vancouver.
The Sounders (14-7-11, 53 points) stay third in the West. They host FC Dallas this coming Sunday.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Michael Gspurning||Didn't have to do much until the very end, at which point he came up huge three times. Kept the point for his team.|
|2||Sebastian Velasquez||Where's the rookie been? He wasn't perfect, but showed more in attack than anyone else on RSL, and nearly got a goal for his efforts.|
|3||Jeff Parke||Probably the biggest reason Gspurning wasn't tested much. Snuffed out every long ball and marshalled his makeshift backline perfectly.|