VANCOUVER, B.C. — There was nothing particularly attractive about how they did it, but the Seattle Sounders would head home perfectly satisfied with their standing in the Western Conference semifinals.
The Sounders weathered some nervy final moments to take a 0-0 tie back to Seattle for Thursday’s second leg.
The chances were few and far between throughout, as neither team seemed particularly keen on pressing the action. The Sounders were content to let the Vancouver Whitecaps have the possession advantage, something Carl Robinson’s side is rarely interested in itself.
The result was a game that was not a ton of fun to watch — but sets up a second leg where both teams have everything to play for. Any win would put the Sounders through to the Western Conference finals, while a tie that features at least one goal apiece will allow the Whitecaps to move on.
The Sounders came out with a lineup that was probably about what you’d expect given various player availability with Jordy Delem effectively slotting in for Nicolas Lodeiro, who moved into Clint Dempsey’s normal No. 10 spot.
The move went about as you’d expect. Delem mostly stayed at home, even if he had a couple loose touches that put him in awkward positions. But he kept the play in front of him as the Whitecaps were effectively forced to play with considerably more possession than is their norm. Delem eventually gave way to Gustav Svensson, who saw his first action since leaving the Oct. 15 match with a tight hamstring. Svensson eventually finished the game at center back after Chad Marshall was forced out in the 71st minute with what appeared to be a muscle injury.
The Sounders were most content to look for counters throughout and Lodeiro was able to get in behind the Whitecaps defense on the flanks on a couple occasions. The closest they came to scoring in the opening 45 was when Joevin Jones beat his man to open an open cross. With Shipp making a hard run to the near post, Kendall Waston was forced to play the ball toward his own net and rung the crossbar with his attempted clearance.
Perhaps the most dangerous chance of the evening came in the game’s final minutes. Cristian Techera found himself with space on the right wing and sent in a cross. But Stefan Frei was quick off his line and punched it away from Fredy Montero, who was waiting on the doorstep.
Leg Two is Thursday night at 7:30 PM.