VANCOUVER – Neither side managed to break through over a hard-fought 90 minutes and the Seattle Sounders’ playoff opener ended in a scoreless draw in the first leg of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Vancouver Whitecaps at BC Place on Sunday evening.
The sides swapped a handful of chances in the first half but neither quite managed to break through. Vancouver’s first good look of the game came in the 25th minute after forward Fredy Montero nearly found midfielder Christian Bolaños with a cross directly in front of the Sounders’ goal, but the feed from the former Seattle great went just high. Vancouver nearly struck again just five minutes later, but center back Román Torres managed to clear the attempt from Brek Shea off the line to preserve the scoreless deadlock.
Seattle’s best chance of the opening frame came in the 36th minute after left back Joevin Jones put a low cross in the direction of charging midfielder Harry Shipp. Jones’ feed took a deflection off Vancouver defender Kendall Waston and looked headed for goal, but clanged off the woodwork and the sides would head into the halftime break scoreless.
Neither team managed to break through in the second half, allowing the scoreless deadlock to hold as the final.
SHORTHANDED SQUAD HANGS TOUGH
The Sounders were missing a laundry list of key contributors going into the match, with star forwards Clint Dempsey (red card suspension) and Jordan Morris (hamstring), as well as midfielder Víctor Rodríguez (quad) all not featuring in the 18. Captain Osvaldo Alonso and midfielder Gustav Svensson, meanwhile, each came off the bench, with Jordy Delem and Harry Shipp both featuring in Sunday’s starting XI. It certainly wasn’t the prettiest of matches for the makeshift group, but considering the missing firepower, Sounders Head Coach Brian Schmetzer likely isn’t complaining about the draw either.
RETURN OF THE GOOSE AND THE CAPTAIN
Speaking of Svensson and Alonso, the Sounders did regain the services of both of their stalwart midfielders on Sunday as second-half substitutes. The changes wouldn’t quite lead to an ever-elusive road goal but seeing their veteran linchpins back on the pitch was certainly a sight for sore-eyed Sounders fans.
LEG 2 LOOMS
With the first leg in the rearview mirror, the Sounders will now turn their focus to the second leg of the series at CenturyLink Field on Thursday night. The biggest item on the agenda? Getting healthy. Svensson and Alonso’s return was the first step, but all eyes will be on Morris and Rodríguez throughout the week as they try to work their way back in time. If they can do so, expect a more open play and more goals in the second leg.