Goalkeeper Kasey Keller and the Seattle Sounders FC defense were worth the price of admission Saturday night. A 1-1 draw against the Chicago Fire was frustrating for the club, but in reality, it wasn't a bad night, considering the adversity that was thrown at them.
"Anytime you can get a point on a day when you probably don't deserve a point is huge," Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid said. "Obviously Chicago took the game to us in the first half. We had trouble with it. We re-evaluated at halftime, but the red card changed our focus again. To come out of here with a point we're pleased."
Chicago outshot Seattle 8-2 in the first half alone. The Fire had Seattle's number. When they weren't attacking, they were stealing the ball, breaking up the Sounders FC attack. Patrick Nyarko hit the post in the 20th minute for a near-miss that could have easily been a goal.
Regardless, Keller and Co. broke up the eight attempts that Chicago sent toward goal.
Second half things changed in a blink of an eye. Three minutes into the half, Sounders FC leading scorer Fredy Montero exited the match with a red card. Seattle found themselves in a challenging position.
But for the next 20 minutes, the club regrouped. And then once they were almost comfortable, Marco Pappa gave Chicago a 1-0 lead.
But Seattle didn't throw in the towel. Sounders FC found a way to gut out a game-tying goal, courtesy of Tyrone Marshall in the 74th minute.
"I thought Chicago was the better team first half," Keller said. "We rode our luck a little bit. We felt we could sort out our issues at halftime. The red card changed the game. We went down a man, conceded the goal, scored and then shut it down."
The Fire went into the match leading the league with 12 goals. Saturday they were relentless once again, pushing until finally finding the opening goal.
Although once wasn't enough for Seattle's attack. Chicago took seven shots in the second half, with three on goal for yet another dominating performance.
But Keller has been nearly flawless in goal. His 456-minute scoreless streak to start the season is a MLS record. In addition, he's made 20 saves on the year and posted four shutouts.
"I haven't said anything to him because I didn't want to jinx him," Schmid said. "He's been great. He always maintains his composure and calm."
Keller has indeed been the rock in the backline for Seattle. When he plays the full 90 minutes in goal, Seattle is undefeated (4-0-1). The club is 0-2 when Keller is out of the lineup. But when you ask him about statistics, he's the first one to say that all he's looking for is a result.
"It can be nil-nil or 1-1. I don't care," Keller said. "You go down a goal, come back and do that is tremendous. Sometimes you ride your luck."
Kathryn L. Knapp is a contributor to MLSnet.com.