The team played much better against New England but the finishing just wasn't there.
The Sounders put in a dominating performance against the New England Revolution on Saturday, but had to settle for a 0-0 draw in the end.
Here are four things we learned as the Sounders continue their pursuit of their first MLS win of 2013.
Defense comes up big
The Sounders FC defense has looked very good at times this season, but had yet to hold a team scoreless for 90 minutes until Saturday. In limiting the Revs to just five shots, none of which were put on target, goalkeeper Michael Gspurning and the Sounders defense earned their first clean sheet of the season.
“It’s great to have a shutout and hopefully we’ll have more,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “It feels hollow right now because I know the guys sitting in there, they wanted the win and it was there for us to take.”
Gspurning finished the 2012 season with eight clean sheets in 21 matches.
“Ozzie was brilliant”
Those are the words of Osvaldo Alonso’s midfield cohort Shalrie Joseph after Alonso turned in one of the more dominating performances he’d ever posted as a Sounder. He completed 108 out of 116 passes – 85 more attempts than any one player on the Revolution. That came in addition to his five tackles, four clearances, three interceptions and 10 possessions gained. And it all came while US National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann looked on.
“I thought for the most part that we controlled the midfield. I thought Ozzie and Shalrie had good control of the midfield and we were in possession of the ball,” Schmid said. “He was busy, he was active. Ozzie and I had talked about that being the strength and always being able a hallmark of his game.”
Lamar Neagle has shown his versatility early in the 2013 season. The 25-year-old Federal Way native had played as an outside midfielder throughout the 2011 and 2012 seasons, but started as a forward on Saturday for the first time since coming back to the Sounders in 2011.
Schmid, for one, was happy with his performance.
“I thought Lamar did what I asked him to do-he stayed high, he occupied the back two, he made runs in behind the defense, he won his duel with A.J. Soares in terms of the aerial dual and things like that which we felt he could,” he said. “I was happy with how he played. I thought he put in a good shift.”
Although it was his first time starting in that role in MLS, he did start at forward while earning USL-2 MVP honors for the 2010 USL-2 championship-winning Charleston Battery, though it was as a more withdrawn forward making runs off of current Vancouver Whitecaps FC forward Tommy Heinemann.
“I felt good. It is a very fun position for me, less defensive responsibility and staying high and being a nuisance on the defenders,” said Neagle, who finished the match with two shots, putting one on frame. “It’s much more fun than tracking back and keeping track of guys.”
New England’s defense is not to be taken lightly
Through five games now, New England has allowed just two goals, making their 0.40 goals against average the best in MLS. The defensive foursome of Andrew Farrell, Jose Goncalves, AJ Soares and Chris Tierney spent most of the match fighting off the Sounders attack, just as they had in their two previous road matches. And considering Farrell is a 21-year-old rookie, Soares is just 24 and Goncalves and Tierney are 27, it is still a group with room to grow, too, as head coach Jay Heaps continues to build the Revs in his mold.