SEATTLE – In the 90th minute of the Sounders FC’s fifth match of the MLS season against the New England Revolution at CenturyLink Field, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado nodded a Mario Martinez corner kick just wide of the far post, missing by inches the game-winning goal the Sounders needed to get their first victory of the young season.
Such has been the start to the Seattle season, as the Sounders moved to 0-3-2 with the scoreless draw against the Revolution.
Seattle finished the night with over 68-percent of possession while completing over 83-percent of their passes and outshot New England 13-5, but they couldn’t find the back of the net.
“It’s a little bit of déjà vu,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “You’ve got to finish your chances and if you finish your chances, you win games. We had chances to put the game away in the first half and we didn’t score. We needed one to go in, but we didn’t finish it today and that’s why we’re standing here with a tie.”
With strikers Obafemi Martins and Eddie Johnson out of the match due to injuries, Schmid started with the forward pair of Lamar Neagle and Steve Zakuani – both of whom have traditionally played on the wings for the Sounders.
The duo was able to get several scoring chances, combining for six shots in the match, with three shots on goal. However, they were unable to get one past New England goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth.
“We’re expecting one of those games where you get the shutout and you get three goals or more. I was hoping that this was going to be one of those games to get us started. It’s very frustrating when we’re in front of their goal for half the game and can’t put it in the back of the net,” Neagle said. “It’s nice to see our offense going, but we definitely need to score these goals.”
From the opening kick, the Sounders controlled the match, connecting pass-after-pass while limiting the time New England held the ball by cutting off the angles to make each pass difficult. The result was a few early opportunities for Seattle while New England didn’t get their first shot until the 35th minute.
In the 14th minute, Neagle picked the ball off of AJ Soares and raced into the box where he played it across to Zakuani for a first-time effort that was blocked by Jose Goncalves sliding in for the save. On the ensuing corner kick, Osvaldo Alonso crushed a half-volley that looked headed for the top corner, but Shuttleworth appeared to tip it by the very edge of his glove to keep the Sounders off the board.
Zakuani got another opportunity in the 43rd minute when he cut into the box on the left side and jetted around Jose Goncalves, but his right-footed shot was blocked by Shuttleworth.
He had one more chance in the 55th minute when Shalrie Joseph played him in behind the New England defense, setting him up for a left-footed shot from the left side. However, his shot skipped just wide of the far post and Zakuani was left still searching for his first goal of the year.
“These things happen in football,” Zakuani said of his chances. “The biggest disappointment for me is that those small ones can turn one point into three points. At the same time, I know that once that first one goes in, it turns around.”
Zakuani finished his day in the 74th minute when he was subbed out for Philip Lund, leading the Sounders with four shots while putting two of those efforts on frame.
Neagle continued his strong play with two late chances and Hurtado had the last-ditch effort in the 90th minute.
Though disappointed to finish with just one point for the draw, the Sounders nearly had that taken from them too. In stoppage time, Jerry Bengtson, who was kept silent throughout the match by the defensive combination of Hurtado and Djimi Traore, got a ball deep in Seattle’s box on the right side, only to miss wildly outside the near post to ensure Seattle would finish with their first clean sheet of the season.
“It’s great to have a shutout and hopefully we’ll have more. That’s the good part. If we want to take something away, it’s good that we got the shutout,” Schmid said. “It feels hollow right now because I know the guys sitting in there wanted to win and we were there. It was there for us to take.”
The Sounders will have their next chance at their first win on April 20 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park against the Colorado Rapids. It is the first of three straight road matches for the Sounders, who will return to CenturyLink Field on May 11 against the San Jose Earthquakes.
Sounders FC – None.
Revolution – None.
Sounders FC – None.
Revolution – None.
Sounders FC – Michael Gspurning, DeAndre Yedlin, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Djimi Traore, Leo Gonzalez, Mauro Rosales (Mario Martinez 83), Osvaldo Alonso, Shalrie Joseph (Andy Rose 74), Alex Caskey, Steve Zakuani (Phillip Lund 74), Lamar Neagle.
Revolution – Bobby Shuttleworth, Andrew Farrell, Jose Goncalves, AJ Soares, Chris Tierney, Kalifa Cisse (Andy Dorman 64), Juan Toja (Saer Sene 74), Lee Nguyen, Clyde Simms, Kelyn Rowe, Jerry Bengtson.