A tie at the end of a stretch of three games in eight days, on the road against a team riding a six-match unbeaten streak and doing it without several starters available isn't the worst result in the world, but it was hardly confidence inspiring either. Give the Seattle Sounders credit for pulling out a point, though, as they definitely looked like a tired bunch by the time the final whistle blew in their 1-1 tie against the Columbus Crew.
On the positive side, Fredy Montero came up big when he needed to. The Sounders' highest paid player scored his second goal of the season off a gorgeous cross from Erik Friberg in the 7th minute. That helped the Sounders keep the momentum for much of the first half, and gave hope that they might even steal all three points.
But the Crew were much better in the second half and seemed destined to find the equalizer. They finally got it when a penalty was awarded in the 67th minute. Replays did not sure a clear foul, but Patrick Ianni definitely made contact with Chad Marshall on the corner kick, and Emilio Renteria easily converted.
From there, it was really all Crew, who out shot the Sounders 16-7, had 57 percent of the possession and completed about 120 more passes. Although the Sounders didn't exactly look awful, they were clearly on their back heels during the final 25-plus minutes.
It's hard to feel like we really could have expected much better, though. Brad Evans was a late scratch when he turned up with a hamstring injury, Mauro Rosales was totally unavailable and Nate Jaqua was deemed fit enough only for about 25 minutes. The starting lineup, in fact, featured four different players from the one that started on Wednesday.
Of the replacements, Servando Carrasco was easily the best performer. In many ways, he's like a much more skilled version of Nathan Sturgis. He doesn't get too involved in the offense, but he's got a great knack for winning balls and showed a toughness that was quite refreshing. He may very well be the Sounders' best pick in the draft. Of the other additions, Roger Levesque and Leo Gonzalez both had up and down games. Gonzalez started well enough, but faded late. Levesque made a nice play to temporarily preserve the lead when he cleared a ball off the line, but was otherwise a general non-factor on offense. Jeff Parke, in for Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, was solid if unspectacular.
I won't blame anyone for feeling less than secure heading into next Saturday's Cascadia Cup match against the Portland Timbers, but the Sounders should be a lot healthier. If a 1-1 tie in these circumstances is really a disappointment, our expectations are too high or this team is doing just fine.