Sounders FC, seeking a playoff push, takes a draw
Against domestic competition, Sounders FC is on a 7-1-3 stretch.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Sounders FC @ Deportivo Saprissa, 7 p.m., FSC
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Two Major League Soccer teams equally eager for a crucial late-season win canceled out into a scoreless draw Thursday night at Qwest Field.
Needing points in a cutthroat push to the playoffs, Sounders FC hosted defending champion Real Salt Lake, but neither side could break through in front of 36,078 fans and a national TV audience.
Seattle, which had won three straight league games at home, hoped for more than just one point in the standings but still extended an unbeaten run against Western Conference opponents to six.
"You feel like you got something, but it's frustrating because obviously we need points," defender Jeff Parke said. "Every time you get a tie, you give space for other teams to gain on you. It's frustrating because we were at home and you want to win at home."
The visitors, returning to the scene of last year's MLS Cup championship, would've taken over first place for the first time in franchise history with a win.
Seattle (9-9-6) survived the game's biggest scare in the 32nd minute, when Salt Lake (12-4-8) was granted a penalty kick after Parke stumbled and then tripped opposing speedster Robbie Findley in the penalty box.
"It was a good play by him and dumb play by me," Parke said. "I shouldn't have lunged in like that. My mistake."
A forward on the U.S. men's national team at this summer's FIFA World Cup, Findley stepped up to take the spot kick, but his poor effort was right down the middle and saved by goalkeeper Kasey Keller.
"I think (the save) was probably justified because I don't know if they deserved (the penalty kick) 100 percent for sure," said Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid.
The home team controlled more of the action in the first half, behind the attacking foursome of Fredy Montero, Nate Jaqua, Alvaro Fernandez and Steve Zakuani. Despite owning most of the possession and outshooting the visitors 5-3 at the break, Seattle rarely tested Salt Lake's backup goalkeeper Kyle Reynish, who started in place of the injured Nick Rimando.
"I think we battled and we fought, but I don't think we played great soccer," Schmid said. "So it was a little disappointing in that regard because I know we have more in us."
After a slow start to the season, RSL has lost just once in its past 19 games (11-1-7). The reigning champs also maintained a league-high goal differential of plus-21, boasting the most goals in MLS (37) and also the fewest allowed (16).
"They're a good team and it was an ugly one," said Jaqua, who made his second start of the season. "That just kind of happens sometimes, especially when two teams are fighting and really want to win."
• Sounders FC has four consecutive road games next up, all to be played within 12 days. Two are in MLS (at Columbus on Sept. 18 and at Chicago on Sept. 25) and the two others are in the CONCACAF Champions League (at Costa Rican club Saprissa on Tuesday and at Mexico's Monterrey on Sept. 22).
• Rimando, an MLS all-star, was a late scratch with an Achilles injury. Rookie defender Chris Schuler started for suspended all-star Jamison Olave (yellow-card accumulation).
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Sounders FC 0, Real Salt Lake 0
|Real Salt Lake||0 0 — 0|
|Seattle FC||0 0 — 0|
Real Salt Lake — Kyle Reynish, Tony Beltran, Chris Schuler, Chris Wingert, Nat Borchers, Andy Williams, Kyle Beckerman, Nelson Gonzalez (Will Johnson, 65th), Javier Morales, Alvaro Saborio, Robbie Findley (Pablo Campos, 89th).
Seattle FC — Kasey Keller, Patrick Ianni, Jeff Parke, Leo Gonzalez, Zach Scott, Steve Zakuani, Osvaldo Alonso, Alvaro Fernandez (Sanna Nyassi, 74th), Nathan Sturgis (Mike Seamon, 85th), Nate Jaqua (Michael Fucito, 70th), Fredy Montero.
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