Offense continued to be a struggle for Sounders 2 on Tuesday night, but a solid defensive performance in Utah gave the club a point and a 0-0 result against Real Monarchs. There were plenty of chances to take three points from Rio Tinto Stadium, but a young trio of strikers struggled with decision-making all night long, often taking too long to make pass-shoot decisions and sometimes not making decisions at all.
It appeared that the Sounders would take the lead in the 11' when Victor Mansaray collected a through ball 1-1 with the keeper, but his shot bounced away off the far post. It then took a series of great saves to keep each team off the board, with a last-ditch headed clearance by Nouhou Tolo quickly followed by a highlight-reel diving save from Tyler Miller.
Lalo Fernandez followed that up with a denial of his own, and the first half drew to a close (and with it, the kinetic energy that defined the first 45'.) Both teams sat on their heels from the 46th minute on, waiting for clear counter-attacking opportunities and failing to exploit them. A few additional cases of dribblitis punctuated a boring second half, and the game came to a close.
The Sounders lived and (ultimately) (sort of) died on the counter attack and cross today, struggling mightily to build chances through the middle of the field. Their best, clearest opportunities were almost exclusively through long balls to Mansaray or Andy Craven, both of whom had success reaching the ball but could not advance the opportunities into meaningful shots on goal.
Miller silenced some critics on the night, controlling his box and making a few excellent saves. The same can be said about improved defensive play in front of the former Northwestern keeper, but Miller deserves credit for a second-straight clean sheet.
If the Sounders had an attacking opportunity, it was probably thanks to the foot of Schweitzer. The midfielder displayed excellent vision in his first USL start and put the forwards in a number of excellent positions facing goal.
It was maddening watching Craven on the evening; the youngster showed his trademark pace and work rate time and time again, collecting balls all over the attacking end of the pitch. A pair of perfectly timed onside runs (at least according to the assistant referees) left Craven with options and short defenses. And time after time, there'd be one dribble too many or an ill-advised pass across the box in a tight window. The tools are all there; maybe seeing these scenarios enough times (ala Edge of Tomorrow) will give Craven the confidence to take clear shooting chances.