Seattle, Atlanta Fight to a Scoreless Draw in First MLS Meeting

SEATTLE (CBS) – Friday night, in front of a crowd of 40,000 strong at CenturyLink Field, Seattle Sounders and Atlanta United both saw their fair share of scoring opportunities.

Yet neither team could find their final touch, and the two teams were forced to share the spoils in a 0-0 draw.

A tie at home may not have been the most desirable outcome, however Seattle did get hold a team scoreless for the first time in 2017, a goal Brian Schmetzer was keen to highlight.

“This was our first clean sheet of the year, so that is a pretty big statement,” Schmetzer said during his post-game press conference.

While an admirable performances from the Sounders back four, things didn’t go as plan for Schmetzer and Co. to start.

Seattle had to make a change on the backline before the match got underway, as the most experienced member of the Sounders defense, Chad Marshall, was scratched during warmups with an illness.

Marshall was replaced at centerback with Tony Alfaro, the Sounders second round draft pick in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft. Along with Joevin Jones, Gustav Svensson and Jordy Delem, who made his first MLS appearance, the Sounders back four featured three players with three or less league starts.

Through the first 15 minutes, that didn’t seem to be a problem. Seattle controlled the pace of the game, holding a 53 percent possession advantage through the first quarter hour.

Harry Shipp, Jordan Morris and Cristian Roldan combined in the eighth minute for Seattle’s best chance of the first half. A one-two combination pass with Morris moved Shipp on the edge of the box, where he found Roldan just inside the 6′. Atlanta keeper Alec Kann came out to disrupt the cross, and Roldan missed wide left.

As the first half waned on, play began to open up for both teams, yet neither side could muster much near goal.

Facilitating attack through the right side using former Sounders defender Tyrone Mears, as well as playing in Hector Villalba behind the defense, Atlanta forced Stefan Frei to make several impressive saves.

Meanwhile, Seattle was content to work up the middle of the field through Nicolas Lodeiro and Morris.

The first few minutes of the second half carried on in the same vein, with both teams frantically pushing forward, only to fall back after a giveaway.

That is, until Clint Dempsey came in.

Entering in the 57th minute, Dempsey provided an instant spark in the final third for Seattle. Just a minute in, the US national team star hit the post off a header with his first touch of the game.

“In the second half, when we were getting on top of them a little bit and Clint comes on, I think the game really turned in our favor,” Schmetzer said.

With Miguel Almiron entering moments later, the final 20 minutes of the match morphed into the up-tempo matchup envisioned weeks before.

Ultimately neither team were able to find the back of the net, and the Sounders, pushing their unbeaten streak at home to 10 games, were forced to settle for a point.

While the defensive performance was a plus, the Sounders attack left much to be desired.

Seattle would finish with just one shot on goal in the game, and 13 total shots.

“We got to do a better job as coaches to get them to feel confident in front of goal. I think there were some guys that might have been a little hesitant to pull the trigger,” Schmetzer said.

“Its something that we can’t micromanage what they do because they’re such talented guys, but we need to get a few more shots on target.”

After back-to-back home games, Seattle now switch gears, heading out on the road for the next three.

The Sounders face off against the San Jose Earthquakes on Friday, April 8, before trips to Vancouver and LA.

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