WASHINGTON, DC – It was nearly a moment of sweet revenge for Marc Burch at RFK Stadium where the Sounders FC met DC United in their first road game of the 2012 MLS season.
Playing in the stadium he called home for the last five seasons, Burch came on as a late-game substitution for the Sounders and nearly silenced the home crowd that had booed him when he entered the match, then each time he touched the ball in the closing moments of the match.
From midfield, Burch sent a ball to Roger Levesque at the right corner of the box. Levesque dropped it back to Osvaldo Alonso, who took a touch and shot through traffic from 24 yards out. DC United goalkeeper Joe Willis punched the shot away, but it fell right to Burch’s head and it looked like he might put away the stoppage time winner, but he hit the upright with his diving chance and DC got the clearance and the Sounders were left to settle for a 0-0 draw.
“It would have been a dream moment for Marc,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “If that goes five inches to the right and he ends up with a goal, he’d welcome all those boos again.”
The biggest scare came in the 23rd minute though. Just after Fredy Montero had his first shot of the game saved by Willis, DeLeon pushed up the left side and sent a low cross for Hamdi Salihi at the near post, but Salihi’s left-footed shot went just over the crossbar and the game remained scoreless.
Seattle goalkeeper Michael Gspurning finished the night with four saves, including a reaction save off a free kick from Nick DeLeon in the 69th minute that nearly opened the game up. It was a highlight stop on a night that Gspurning cleared balls with a strong command of his area.
“When he is able to come out and punch those balls clear it makes it a lot easier on our defenders because they know they have a goalkeeper that’s going to get to those balls,” Schmid said. “He made a good save on DeLeon’s free kick when it looked to a lot of people like DeLeon might have caught him, but he came through and he read that really well. He came up with some big saves tonight for sure.”
A key for the Sounders in the match was to shut down 2011 MLS MVP Dwayne De Rosario and Alonso did just that, limiting the playmaking midfielder to just two shots all match and limiting his touches on the ball with a stifling defense that had De Rosario visibly frustrated throughout the match.
“I thought he did a good job of shutting him down and eventually they moved DeRo up to get him away from Ozzie,” Schmid said. “He did a good job for us and I also thought the center of our defense did well.”
Eddie Johnson made his Sounders FC MLS debut, coming on as a sub in the 66th minute and he got a shot away with his first touch, heading a ball into the box just wide.
However, a winner wasn’t to be had and the Sounders moved to 2-1-1 (7 points) while DC is now 1-2-2 (5 points).
“It’s important to go away from home and keep a clean sheet,” Schmid said. “We ended up picking up a point – we wanted three, but I thought it was a good result for us.”
The Sounders will return home to face the Colorado Rapids on Saturday at 1 pm at CenturyLink Field.
Sounders FC – None.
DC United – None.
Sounders FC – None.
DC United – Maicon Santos (caution) 12; Dejan Jakovic (caution) 30.
Sounders FC – Michael Gspurning, Zach Scott, Patrick Ianni, Jeff Parke, Leo Gonzalez, Roger Levesque, Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Alvaro Fernandez (Marc Burch 92+), David Estrada (Eddie Johnson 66), Fredy Montero.
DC United – Joe Willis, Robbie Russell (Chris Korb 74), Emiliano Dudar, Dejan Jakovic, Daniel Woolard, Danny Cruz (Chris Pontius 59), Perry Kitchen, Dwayne De Rosario, Nick DeLeon, Maicon Santos, Hamdi Salihi (Branko Boskovic 72).