Sounders find positives in scoreless draw with Real Salt Lake
Although it wasn't a win, Seattle coach Sigi Schmid was pleased with the shutout — his team's first in MLS since May 9.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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SANDY, Utah — Sounders FC's two-month-long winless streak, one that has grabbed much attention locally and around MLS, didn't end Wednesday in Rio Tinto Stadium.
But digging deep and battling to a hotly contested 0-0 tie against Real Salt Lake, in arguably the toughest road stadium in the league, showed significant signs of progress in at least one sorely needed area for Seattle — defense.
The Sounders, while winless in a franchise-worst nine games, earned their first shutout since a May 9 win in Dallas and have gone without defeat in their last two road games.
Coach Sigi Schmid quickly ended any ambiguity about whether it was a good tie or a bad tie.
"We're happy with the result," he said. "We're happy that we played to a shutout. That was one of the things we wanted to concentrate on today."
With the tie, Seattle (7-5-6) became the first team in MLS history to go three-straight league games without a loss at Rio Tinto Stadium, where RSL is a league-best 36-7-14 since 2009.
The Sounders, who had allowed 15 goals in their last eight games, a far cry from the three goals allowed in the season's first nine games, did it with defense.
"We told ourselves we were going to play to zero," said midfielder Servando Carrasco of the defensive plan, "and we did execute in that part of the game. Whenever you play to zero you give yourself a chance to win."
Amid the defensive slugfest, both teams nearly bagged a late winner Wednesday.
Real Salt Lake (10-6-3) had a chance in the 83rd minute, when a driven shot by forward Fabian Espindola whistled inches wide of goal.
Seattle's came in the 88th minute, when second-half substitute Cordell Cato couldn't quite connect on a pass from Mauro Rosales as he raced into the goal area wide open at the far post.
Cato was reliving the chance just moments after the game in the visitor's locker room.
"It's already banging in my head right now," the 19-year-old said.
Real Salt Lake, which snapped a three-game losing streak, controlled most of the action in the first half — holding more than 65 percent of the possession and a 7-3 advantage in shots — but the Sounders limited the dangerous chances.
Salt Lake forward Alvaro Saborio, who had four goals in his first six games against Seattle, had the best look of the first half with a 16th-minute header, but he fired it over the goal.
The Sounders' rare opportunities came on the right side through Rosales, but a couple of his swinging crosses were handled well, and athletically, by RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando.
A quick turnaround provides Seattle another chance to end the winless streak in an 8 p.m. home game Saturday against Colorado at CenturyLink Field
"The label that we have on our backs right now is that we haven't won in nine games and we're very aware of that," said Carrasco. "So going back home on Saturday, I think we're going to turn things around."
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @joshuamayers