Berhalter salutes 10-man Crew SC's "outstanding effort" in Seattle shutout

SEATTLE – As painful as Saturday’s 0-0 draw against Columbus Crew SC at CenturyLink Field was for the Seattle Sounders, the result was an equally impressive one for the visitors.

After midfielder Pedro Santos was issued a 15th-minute red card following video review for a high kick to Sounders midfielder Alex Roldan, Crew SC were forced to play down a man 75 minutes – daunting circumstances in which to try and procure road points in one of the toughest venues for visiting teams in MLS.

Instead of folding, however, Columbus put on a clinic on how to grind out a 10-man result. They held the Sounders to just one shot on target, allowing them to leave Seattle with a hard-fought and well-deserved road point.

“I’m proud of the guys. I think it was an outstanding effort,” head coach Gregg Berhalter said after the match. “The way we organized ourselves, defended and stayed disciplined with the defending was excellent. Under difficult conditions, on turf, pretty warm, down a man – I think the guys did a great job.”

The Columbus defense suffocated Seattle’s attack all afternoon, with the Sounders’ only chance coming on a second-half strike from Clint Dempsey that was saved by goalkeeper Zack Steffen.

In fact, Columbus could even have left CenturyLink with all three points had they been more clinical on a pair of clean looks on goal from Gyasi Zardes and Milton Valenzuela.

“Movement,” Berhalter said regarding the keys to the massive defensive effort. “We needed to continue to slide, defend as a unit and continue to be a solid block that was difficult to break down, and I think we did that. We opened up very little passing lanes through the middle so everything had to go wide. Then when we were wide, we had numbers in the penalty box to defend it.”

Considering the shorthanded circumstances, it was virtually an ideal outcome for Columbus as they head back home to MAPFRE Stadium, where they’ll first take on the Philadelphia Union in a midweek fixture on Wednesday (7:30 pm ET | ESPN+ – Full TV & streaming info)  before battling the Chicago Fire on Saturday.

Berhalter said some of the lineup rotation he employed against Seattle should give him more options as he evaluates who to field in those matches.

“We’ll try to re-group and get our guys together and fit,” Berhalter said. “We rested a number of guys today so we’ll have some fresh guys. We’ll be able to get some fresh bodies on the field for Wednesday.”