Sporting Kansas City limped into Seattle on Saturday with a lineup dotted with injuries or just general fatigue from a midweek game played just three days earlier.
So, the Seattle Sounders’ weren’t surprised that SKC arrived with a cautious game plan and a leisurely attitude toward putting the ball back in play.
Yet even facing what they fully expected, the Sounders couldn’t find a way through Kansas City’s defensive thicket, and the teams slogged to a scoreless draw before an announced crowd of 40,653 at CenturyLink Field.
“They kind of just packed it in,” Seattle forward Chad Barrett said. “… I think with their game on Wednesday and the fact that they had so many injuries, they only had one choice, and that was to sit in, because we had pretty much a full team on a full week’s rest. And they pretty much did exactly what they came in here for.”
The Sounders had 65 percent of the possession, but they put only one of their 10 shots on target. That came in the 82nd minute, by Barrett, which was handled by goalkeeper Tim Melia.
“We had some chances,” Barrett said. “I had some chances I wish I could have back. Ultimately we didn’t get as many chances as we wanted to because they were getting 10 guys behind the ball every single time, and they were just going for a counter-attack goal. We were solid in the back. We didn’t fall asleep.”
Both teams were without key players. Seattle’s Obafemi Martins missed his second consecutive game with a leg injury. Meanwhile, SKC’s Graham Zusi (concussion) spent the first 76 minutes on the bench, and Dom Dwyer was a late scratch from the starting lineup due to a neck injury.
Seattle (6-3-2) played the final minutes with 10 men after midfielder Gonzalo Pineda suffered an ankle injury. No immediate prognosis was given.
The teams have a history of close, low-scoring games with no resolution until the final reel. They have faced each other 10 times, and there has never been more than a one-goal margin of victory. The Sounders scored game-winning goals in stoppage times in five of the games, including the previous two.
But this time it was Kansas City that almost provided the late punch. A couple of minutes into stoppage time, Benny Feilhaber sent a right-footed shot from outside the box on target. However, Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei made a leaping one-handed save.
“It’s the hardest thing,” Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said. “… When you’re sitting in goal and you’re not really facing much of anything and now you’re called upon to make a big save, I think that’s what separates very, very good goalkeepers from the rest of the pack. Today, he showed he’s a very good goalkeeper.”
Seattle extended its unbeaten run against Kansas City (4-2-6) to nine games, a streak dating to April 2009. No game in the series has been decided by more than a single goal.
“Obviously, we’re disappointed with the tie at home,” Schmid said. “We always want to win when we’re at home. We had more possession. … In the second half we had a couple of really clean looks. … and in a game like this you’re not going to get 10 or 15 chances. So you’re only going to get one or two, and you have to finish them when you can.”
The Sounders will return to action at 7 p.m. Wednesday when the Colorado Rapids visit CenturyLink Field.