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Sounders vs. Dynamo Recap: Scoreless tie not enough to clinch playoff spot

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Sounders play final 26 minutes down a man after Osvaldo Alonso is red carded.

MLS: Houston Dynamo at Seattle Sounders FC Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

With a chance to secure a playoff berth with a win, the Seattle Sounders couldn’t figure out how to find the back of the net.

Despite 15 shots, including seven on frame, the Sounders couldn’t beat the Dynamo’s Joe Willis and were forced to settle for a 0-0 tie on Wednesday. It was the first time the Sounders had been shut out since Brian Schmetzer took over as head coach 12 games ago.

To make matters worse, the Sounders will be without Osvaldo Alonso after he received a red card in the 64th minute and likely without Andreas Ivanschitz, who suffered a knee sprain around the 6th minute.

Even before their match against the last-place Dynamo, Schmetzer was missing several key parts. The most notable absence was Joevin Jones, who was unable to return from international duty with Trinidad & Tobago in time for the match. Brad Evans was also missing after getting a red card in their last game and Alvaro Fernandez was out with a hamstring injury. Backup left back Dylan Remick was also out with a concussion, which meant rookie defender Tony Alfaro made his first MLS start at left-back.

Seattle had the better chances of the opening minutes, with Alfaro putting Ivanschitz into the final third with an excellent pass but the Austrian was unable to find a teammate in the box . Ivanschitz also had an excellent opportunity after he latched onto a wayward Morris pass, but his eventual shot was straight at goalkeeper Joe Willis. Ivanschitz suffered a right knee sprain during that sequence, as he went down immediately afterwards and was eventually substituted out for Erik Friberg in the 16th minute.

The only real chance for Houston in the first 20 minutes came courtesy of veteran midfielder Ricardo Clark after Alfaro lost the ball in midfield, but Clark’s shot took a deflection and rolled tamely to Stefan Frei. A much better chance came for Houston around the 30-minute mark, as Will Bruin found space on the top of the box and fired at goal, but Frei came up big and tipped the shot onto the post, after which it was cleared away by the Seattle defense.

The Sounders’ best first-half look came through Friberg, who found himself one-on-one with Willis around 40th. Friberg’s first shot was saved, as was his follow-up from point-blank range. A foul by Clark on Cristian Roldan gave Lodeiro a great chance from a free kick, which he nearly put in the net if not for a great save by Willis to tip it over the bar.

The second half started strongly for Houston, as the Dynamo had another chance bounce off the bar in the first couple minutes.

The Sounders picked up the pace after, with players getting into dangerous areas multiple times but unable to create a good final ball. They seemed more likely to cross the ball from wide areas rather than work the ball into the box, but none of the crosses were particularly good or dangerous.

Just as the Sounders seemed like they were finding some momentum, some scuffling between Alonso and Bruin ended in a red card for the former for swiping at the latter’s face.

Playing a man down, the Sounders continued to go for the win. Nelson Valdez, who came on halfway through the half for Gomez, created multiple chances for himself in the box, but he was unable to finish them. Oalex Anderson got a couple decent looks himself, showing some needed energy, but neither of his two shots gave Willis much trouble.

The point did allow the Sounders to move into fourth place in the West, equal on points but owning the first tiebreaker with Real Salt Lake. The Sounders can still clinch a playoff spot this week. They’ll either need the San Jose Earthquakes to drop points against the reeling Vancouver Whitecaps and for the Portland Timbers to lose or tie the Colorado Rapids or the Sounders will need to beat FC Dallas on the road. All three teams play on Sunday.