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Scoreless in Seattle

Sounders continue their scoring struggles as they share the points in a 0-0 draw with Austin.

Last Updated
4 min read
Pedro de la Vega dribbles towards goal. - Kayla Mehring Photography

SEATTLE – The Seattle Sounders played their first home game of the regular season against Austin FC as they kicked off their 50th anniversary campaign and honored Ozzie Alonso after the club legend signed a one-day contract to retire as a Sounder. Unfortunately that was just about all the excitement there was going to be as the Sounders could only claim a 0-0 draw.

In the first half, the Sounders were able to get the ball into good spots, even seemingly setting up a couple of good looks at goal with the ball at Alex Roldan’s feet, but failed to create much real danger. They took a total of 10 shots to Austin’s zero, but never genuinely tested Brad Stuver with any of them.

The story wasn’t much different in the second half. Seattle had a handful of chances, but never seemed especially close to putting the ball in the back of the net outside of a volley from Raúl Ruidíaz in stoppage time that struck the crossbar.

Seattle dominated play – 23 shots to two, and 42 touches in the opposition box to four are pretty clear markers of domination – but had nothing to show for it. They limited any real danger from Austin, and the only save required of Andrew Thomas was a simple dribbler that he gathered easily. At the same time Austin wasn’t really posing many questions that needed answering. The questions from opening week about the offense’s ability to generate real chances and turn them into goals remain unanswered. The next chance to find answers will come against the Philadelphia Union on Saturday.

Key moments

8 - Seattle creates a dangerous moment as de la Vega picks up a loose ball and drives forward. Atencio hits a cross to the far post, but Stuver catches it.

17 - A corner falls to Jackson Ragen, but he can’t turn and get a shot off. The ball pops out to Nouhou who hits a cross, but Atencio’s header goes wide.

23 - Léo Chú puts a defender on the ground on the left side of the box, drives into the area and hits a shot that skims just over the bar.

29 - The Sounders carve through the Austin box, but as the ball finds its way all the way to Alex Roldan there are too many touches and his shot is blocked.

52 - Josh Atencio takes a touch after settling the ball and pulls up to shoot from the top of the arc, but his effort goes wide of the goal.

65 - Raúl Ruidíaz glides in and gets a first-time shot off as he connects with a cross from Cristian Roldan that bounces through the area, but the shot just misses. Replays seem to show Brad Stuver making the save, but it was ruled a goal kick.

77 - Josh Atencio nearly finds the break through as he extends to get a head on a cross from Nouhou, but Stuver dives and punches the ball away.

90+2 - Ruidiaz rings the underside of the crossbar as he volleys a gorgeous cross from Atencio, but the game remains scoreless.

Quick thoughts

The injury list lengthens: The Sounders have been missing several starters, depending on how you see the team’s ideal XI, to start the season. Stefan Frei has been able to get extra time to recover due to the performance of Andrew Thomas, but João Paulo, Albert Rusnák and Yeimar all have yet to see the field so far this season for one reason or another. During this game we also saw Chú and Pedro de la Vega come off with injuries. Head Coach Brian Schmetzer indicated that de la Vega’s injury was to his hamstring – not the one he recently recovered from injuring– and that he thinks it's minor, but that still likely at least leaves him out of the squad next weekend. The player availability situation should get better at some point, but for now it’s pretty rough.

Where have the goals gone: Goal scoring is obviously the biggest problem for the Sounders to solve. It was a problem going into preseason and, despite the team’s work to find a solution, the answers still elude them. The team dominated Austin in shots tonight – 23-2 is a BIG difference – and while they came pretty close on a number of occasions, shot selection seems like a particular pain point. This seemed to be on players minds in a few sequences, with not-quite-clear chances in and around the area being passed over in the hopes that an extra touch or finding a teammate might result in a more ideal shooting opportunity. Instead those sequences tended to end in blocked shots or lost possession. It’s a difficult balance to strike: choosing the right shot, and trusting yourself to have found it.

Just not good enough: Maybe if this result happens at another point in the season it feels a little different, but the fact remains that Austin are probably one of, if not the worst team in the league. Regardless of who was or wasn’t available, this is a team that the Sounders should certainly be beating at home. Oddly enough, the Sounders have now played Austin at home on four occasions and only picked up a win once. This was a bad result, and the team needs to start finding ways to get some good ones.

Notable quote

Man of the match

Josh Atencio – Josh Atencio’s performance in this one probably flies under the radar a bit because of the result, but he showed a lot of why he’s such a promising player who’s gotten USMNT attention. He won 10 of 14 duels (seven of 11 ground duels, three of four in the air), along with four interceptions and 14 recoveries. To go with that he had six shots, 104 touches, created two chances, three accurate long balls on four attempts and succeeded on his one attempted dribble. In a lackluster performance, he was the star.