VANCOUVER, B.C. – Despite having allowed the second-fewest goals in MLS this season, the Seattle Sounders had talked at length this week about the need to tighten up their defense.
Although a 0-0 tie against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday was not exactly the ideal result, the Sounders at least managed to register their first shutout since Aug. 18. Coincidentally, the Sounders’ last shutout also came against the Whitecaps.
“As a group, defensively, it was a good game,” Seattle defender Jeff Parke told reporters. “We gave up a couple of chances, but at the end of the day we got the zero and it’s important that we run with this and hopefully use this as confidence going into the next game and going on a little bit of run.”
One of the main focuses of the Sounders this week was closing down on ball handlers outside the penalty area and limiting chances on corner kicks. The 'Caps did manage to earn nine corner kicks, but never really threatened on any of them. They also were able take 16 shots, but many of them were from distance and never posed much of a threat.
The Sounders did allow one big chance just before the final whistle. Barry Robson found some space on the left wing and sent a cross into the penalty area that Kenny Miller was able to flick to Camilo Sanvezzo at the far post. Camilo had an open look at the goal from about eight yards out, but sent his shot just inches wide.
“I’m big enough, I just tried to be as big as possible,” Sounders goalkeeper Michael Gspurning said when asked what was going through his head as Camilo prepared to shoot. “Of course there was a lot of luck that it didn’t go in.”
While a tie on the road is almost always an acceptable result – and in this case secured a playoff spot – several Sounders acknowledged this was a bit of a missed opportunity. With Real Salt Lake winning their game and the LA Galaxy currently holding the tiebreaker, Seattle remained in fourth place in the Western Conference.
It also marked the first time in 12 matches that the Sounders had failed to score. The last time they were shut out was in a scoreless tie on the road against RSL on July 4.
OPTA Chalkboard: Sounders keep Whitecaps at bay
“I think we had more possession of the game during the 90 minutes and it’s a pity that we couldn’t score and couldn’t take the three points,” Sounders midfielder Mauro Rosales said. “I’m disappointed for that, but we have to keep working. We know that we are in the playoffs with that point but it’s not enough, we came here for the three points. We hope in the next game we can win at home against Portland for our fans.”
Jeremiah Oshan covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com.