One of the strangest and most stretched lineups ever fielded by Sounders FC managed a scoreless draw against Real Salt Lake tonight at CenturyLink Field.
The Sounders’ took the pitch depleted by injuries and players missing due to international teams.
Then, in the 30th minute, defender Zach Scott picked up his second yellow card and was banished, leaving the Seattle to play the final 60 minutes one man down.
However, whatever satisfaction there might have been from earning a point despite their dire predicament was mitigated by the arithmetic of the MLS standings as the regular season ticks down.
The draw leaves Seattle (14-7-11) three points behind second-place RSL (17-11-5) in the Western Conference standings. Salt Lake has one game remaining, while Seattle has two.
It was the Sounders’ third straight shutout, as they ran their streak to 330 minutes without allowing a goal.
Goals were especially rare in Seattle-RSL three-game series, which concluded with two scoreless draws and a 1-0 victory by Salt Lake.
Among the missing for Seattle was leading goal-scorer Eddie Johnson, who had played 89 minutes with the U.S. national team the day before. Sammy Ochoa started in his place.
At midfielder Steve Zakuani was in street clothes, due to a previously undisclosed abdominal muscle strain. And Mario Martinez was out due to international duty.
Things were even more chaotic along the back line where four regulars were in street clothes or on the bench: Adam Johansson due to duty with the Sweden national team, and Patrick Ianni, Leo Gonzalez and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado due to injury. The Sounders compensated with a back line of Brad Evans, Jeff Parke, Zach Scott and Marc Burch.
The Sounders return to league play at 6 p.m. Sunday, when FC Dallas visits. Scott will miss that one also due to red-card suspension.
76th minute: Estrada on for Montero. Still scoreless.
Through 60 minutes: Still scoreless. Sounders not playing like a team a man down. Flow and chances very equal.
Second half: … has begun. No changes for Seattle. One for RSL: Schuler on, Olave off.
Halftime: Scoreless. Salazar didn’t call apparent handball in box in final seconds. Looked like a better call, maybe, on replay.
40th minute: Seattle sub, Seamon on and Ochoa off. Montero alone up top. Seamon to right back, Evans to center back. Rose back up to midfield.
31st minute: Zach Scott draws second yellow — and therefore a red card — for tackle on Javier Morales. Sounders face an hour of soccer 10-on-11
First 30: Scoreless. Good intensity, but no real dazzling chances. Sounders doing lots of crosses, but no Eddie Johnson to get to them.
First kick: We’re under way. Sounders in rave/blue; RSL in red/red.
The first goal — any goal — could be crucial, as the teams have combined for one goal — RSL’s — in the first two meetins.
Seattle comes in with a 240 minute shutout streak overall. And when scoring first, Seattle is 13-0-3, while RSL is 14-1.
Weakened Sounders: This game could be decisive for the Sounders’ hopes of finishing second in the West. But they’re going with something well short of their first 11 lineup.
At forward, leading goal-scorer Eddie Johnson wasn’t in uniform, due to U.S. 89 minutes with the U.S. national team yesterday. Sammy Ochoa is starting in his place.
At midfielder, Steve Zakuani is in street clothes, due to a previously undisclosed abdominal muscle strain. And Mario Martinez is out due to international duty.
Things are even more chaotic along the back line where four regulars were in street clothes or on the bench: Adam Johansson due to duty with the Sweden national team, and Patrick Ianni, Leo Gonzalez and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (on the bench) due to injury. Coach Sigi Schmid is going with a back line of Brad Evans, Jeff Parke, Zach Scott and Marc Burch.
Zakuani injured: Steve Zakuani has tweeted that he is out of the 18 tonight due to injury. No other details yet.
Lineups: For Sounders: GK Gspurning; D Evans, Parke, Scott, Burch; M Rosales, Alonso, Rose, Tiffert; F Montero, Ochoa. Reserves: Hahnemann, Carrasco, Caskey, Cato, Estrada, Hurtado, Seamon.
RSL just tweeted this first 11: Rimando; Beltran, Olave, Borchers, Wingert; Beckerman (c), Gil, Steele, Morales; Paulo Junior, Espindola
Warm ups: First keeper out on the pitch: Marcus Hahnamann … meaning what projected as an interesting 18-man roster might have just gotten that much more interesting. Meanwhile, Patrick Ianni is in the press box in street clothes.
Pregame: It’s cloudy, but no rain — yet — at CenturyLink Field, about two hours before the 7 p.m. match with Real Salt Lake.
The game will be shown on KONG 6/16 locally, Root regionally, and NBCSN nationally. It also will be heard on the usual radio outlets, blogged here, and tweeted @donruiztnt.
I’ll be back with pregame news as it happens, including what should be a very interesting starting lineup and 18-man roster.