10-Man Sounders Make The Best Of A Bad Situation, Grind Out 0-0 Draw Against Real Salt Lake

An entertaining, back-and-forth opening half hour was turned on its head with the sending off of Zach Scott at the half-hour mark, but the Seattle Sounders not only weathered the storm but looked the better side for much of the game. A late flurry from Real Salt Lake was turned aside by Michael Gspurning, and though the result may not have been what the Sounders were after from the outset, there was much to be encouraged by in a spirited and disciplined Seattle performance. Earning just a point didn't do much to improve the Sounders mathematical standing in the Western Conference, but given the circumstances and quality of Seattle's play, this performance could go a long way towards building confidence heading into the playoffs.

From the outset it looked to be the game most MLS fans were hoping for but few expected; an end-to-end battle of attacking play with both sides pushing hard to exploit an opening. Zach Scott's second yellow in the 30th minute changed all of that; Sigi Schmid withdrew Sammy Ochoa and brought in Michael Seamon for his first action of the season at right back in his place, with Brad Evans shifting to central defense in order to restore the Sounders four-man back line. That could have signaled the end of Seattle's attacking forays, but after grinding out the remainder of the first-half and getting comfortable in their new shape, the Sounders came out from the break with renewed vigor and put RSL under significant pressure in defiance of their lessened numbers.

After a tiring Fredy Montero was withdrawn in the 76th minute, the balance of play shifted back to Real Salt Lake. As had been the case for the majority of the night, however, the visitors were unable to do much in the way of creating chances despite dominating possession despite Seattle having seemingly given up on the attack altogether. Still, there would be some hearts-in-throats moments to come right at the death; Tony Beltran was denied by Michael Gspurning after a disappointing finish in a 1-v-1 situation in the 84th minute, but the Sounders keeper would save his best for last, coming up with two huge saves of Chris Schuler and Sebastian Velasquez in the 92nd minute to preserve the clean sheet.

From an emotional standpoint, the Sounders made a clear statement tonight. Coming in to the game a 0-0 draw would have seemed an unpleasant proposition, but under the circumstances it was an encouraging outcome. A win against FC Dallas on Sunday would draw the Sounders even with RSL on points and into second place on goals scored, and the visitors showed very little on the night that would indicate they would enter the playoffs as favorites over Seattle. At this stage in the season, a spirited showing such as this one can easily make up for any disappointment at the result.

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