SEATTLE -- Both sides had their chances in an entertaining and up-and-down affair but the Seattle Sounders battled expansion side Atlanta United to a scoreless draw in front of 40,182 onlookers at CenturyLink Field on Friday.
The Sounders found themselves without three of their regular starters on their backline for the match, starting with center back Roman Torres who got the night off after logging heavy minutes during World Cup qualifying this week with the Panamanian national team. Torres’ fellow starting center back, Chad Marshall, was a late scratch from the starting XI due to an illness.
Rookie Jordy Delem, meanwhile, was given his first career MLS start with defender Oniel Fisher still recovering from a hamstring injury. Gustav Svensson and Tony Alfaro deputized in place of Torres and Marshall in Seattle’s central defense, with left back Joevin Jones rounding out Seattle’s back four as the only regular starter.
Sounders forward Clint Dempsey also started Friday’s match on the bench to ease his workload as he returned to the club from U.S. national team duty.
The new-look backline managed to hold firm throughout an up-and-down first half that saw both sides log their fair share of chances. The Sounders’ closest opportunity came in the 8th minute after a cross from Jordan Morris found the chest of midfielder Cristian Roldan in front of goal, but the chance went wide.
Goalkeeper Stefan Frei also put in a solid shift through the opening 45 minutes, denying the visitors a handful of opportunities of their own to grab the first-half lead and the contest would be scoreless at the break.
After checking on for Alvaro Fernandez in the 60th minute, Dempsey very nearly gave the Sounders the lead right away after getting his head to a Nicolas Lodeiro free kick that he put on target. But the shot would deflect off the crossbar and the game stayed deadlocked at 0-0.
Neither side would manage to find the scoresheet after that, bumping the Sounders’ record on the young 2017 season to 1-1-2.
Seattle return to action on April 8, when the Rave Green will take on the San Jose Earthquakes in a road matchup at Avaya Stadium.