The biggest save of Bryan Meredith’s young career came off the foot of his own defender.
As the Seattle Sounders clung to a scoreless tie, Jeff Parke (pictured above, left) attempted to tap the ball back to his goalkeeper. But the center back, who had been having one of his best games of the season up until then, hit it a little harder than he intended, forcing Meredith into a quick reflex save.
That play, as much as any other, allowed the Sounders to escape with a 0-0 tie on the road against Real Salt Lake on Wednesday. It was the Sounders’ ninth straight league game without a win, but it was their first shutout in nearly two months.
Full Highlights: RSL 0, SEA 0
“It was a complete team effort, for sure,” Meredith told the Sounders official website. “This was an important game for me to play well in. It’s a second chance for me to come and play with the first team, so it was important for me to show well. It was big for the team and we can take a lot of positives out of that.”
Servando Carrasco, who slotted in at holding midfield in the absence of workhorse Osvaldo Alonso, said keeping RSL off the scoreboard was of utmost importance.
“It was one of those games we told ourselves we were going to play to zero, and we executed on that part of the game,” Carrasco said. “Whenever you play to zero you give yourself a chance to win and that’s what we try to do.”
The much-maligned Sounders defense was easily the star of this one. Coming off an eight-match stretch in which they surrendered 15 goals, the defense largely limited Meredith’s work to a minimum. Aside from Parke’s near own-goal, the closest RSL came to scoring was when Álvaro Saborío had a goal waved off for being offside in the 52nd minute.
“We’re happy with the result, we’re happy we played to a shutout,” Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said. “That was one of the things we wanted to concentrate on today. We dropped [back] at a certain point. That’s not something we normally do on the road, but tonight I thought it was something we needed to do.”
Although RSL had the bulk of the possession, the Sounders managed to create a few chances of their own. Fredy Montero whistled a ball over the crossbar in the first half on a shot from about 20 yards.
They also came within a couple inches of stealing all three points when Mauro Rosales nearly connected with second-half sub Cordell Cato on a cross in the 87th minute. Cato had a wide open net in front of him but he couldn’t get a foot on a sliding effort from about six yards out.
“We’d like to win, for sure,” Schmid said. “We want to be a tough team to beat and I think we’ve gotten back to that; we lost that for a couple of games and we’ve gotten back to that, which is very important. Now it’s a matter of the soccer catching up and us playing better and walking away with a win.”
Jeremiah Oshan covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com and SB Nation.