There were the Seattle Sounders on the road without Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins, Chad Marshall, Osvaldo Alonso and Marco Pappa – very possibly their five best players.
Yet there was FC Dallas, starting without stars Blas Perez, Moises Hernandez and Mauro Diaz, and then playing the final 72 minutes one man down.
After 90 minutes, the two wildly weakened teams walked off the pitch with a scoreless draw at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.
It was the first match in Sounders' history when neither team managed a shot on target.
The Sounders and their fans knew all week that they would be without Papp due to duty with the Guatemala national team, and Clint Dempsey due to injury, while there was hope that Marshall and Alonso would be recovered enough from their own injuries to return. However, what the club knew but its fans didn’t was that Martins had suffered an upper quadriceps injury Tuesday in the friendly against Club Tijuana. The club says his injury isn’t expected to be long-term, but he wasn’t close enough to ready this weekend to even board the plane.
The only injury news that broke the Sounders way was Tyrone Mears’ return at right back after a hamstring injury. However, that still left five of the 10 outfield starters to replace, and before the evening was out Victor Mansaray and Oneil Fisher would make their MLS debuts, Cristian Roldan would get his first MLS start, Aaron Kovar, Chad Barrett and Andy Rose would get their first starts of the season, and Zach Scott would make his first appearance of the season.
However, Dempsey and Martins were the only Sounders to score over the first two games of the season, and that remains true after the third. Seattle’s best chances came on Barrett shots sent wide in the 55th and 72nd minutes, and Andy Rose attempt from in front of goal tipped wide by a Dallas defender.
Dallas’ best chance came in the 29th minute when Michel semt a free kick off of the crossbar.
The Hoops came into the match as the only unbeaten and untied team in the league.
However, they also were weakened by international call ups. And their degree of difficulty rose considerably in the 18th minute when Kellyn Acosta was sent off after a high kick into Rose’s midsection.
The Sounders return home to meet the Houston Dynamo at 7 p.m. Saturday at CenturyLink Field.
Final: 0-0. Sounders on road without five starters. Dallas without three key starters and then a man down. Don't know what to make of it.
Will be back with notes and quotes.
61' Kovar in for Roldan.
Second half: ... is under way. No changes.
Halftime: Nil-nil. Often soccer as sloppy as might be expected with all the personnel changes.
Goals 0/0; Shots 2/0; SOG 0/0; Corners 2/3; Fouls 5/4; Pass Acc % 69/70; Possession % 49/51
18' Straight red card to Acosta for high kick to Rose's gut and Sounders will play final 72 minutees with a one-man advantage First kick: ... has been struck. Sounders in rave/rave, Dallas in red/red.
Lineup: For Sounders: Sounders: Frei; Mears, Evans, Scott, Gonzalez; Pineda, Azira; Roldan, Rose, Neagle; Barrett. Reserves: Perkins, Remick, Fisher, Ockford, Kovar, Mansaray.
No Dempsey, no Martins, no Pappa, no Marshall. The big surprise is Martins, left home with a previously undisclosed upper quad injury. Early indication is that this is only game he's expected to miss.
And a first career start for Roldan.
For Dallas: Seitz, Acosta, Hedges, Loyd, Harris, Castillo, Michel, Ulloa, Hollingshead, Akindele, Texeira. Reserves: Gonzalez, Zimmerman, Keel, Barrios, Garcia, Zendejas, Earle.
Pregame: The Sounders play their first road game of the season today at FC Dallas. First kick is scheduled for 5:30 at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, north of Dallas.
The game will be shown on Q13 and heard on 97.3-FM. We'll have updates and comments on Twitter @donruiztnt, and we'll keep the blog going before during and after the match.
Lots of lineup questions loom. And those should be answered soon.