Kasey Keller was gone from the Sounders FC locker room before the media were allowed in, presumably because there had been no particular need to shower or perhaps even to change clothes.
The Sounders’ goalkeeper from Lacey had to handle just one shot from Chivas USA on Saturday, and that was a soft floater that most guys in weekend beer leagues could have caught.
On the other end of the pitch, Chivas keeper Zach Thornton was acrobatically twisting himself in high-flying knots while fighting off a half-dozen Sounders shots – most of them serious potential game-winners.
But after 90 minutes, the bottom line was the same for both sides: a scoreless draw before a crowd of 32,710 at Qwest Field and one point in the increasingly clustered MLS playoff race.
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“(Thornton) stopped the ones that he needed to stop,” Seattle forward Fredy Montero said through an interpreter. “Our keeper is actually going to go home with a clean uniform. We managed and controlled the game but unfortunately didn’t score and didn’t win.”
Seattle also played with a one-man advantage over the final 19 minutes after Chivas defender Marcelo Saragosa was given a red card for a high kick that concluded with his cleat in Montero’s face.
Still, the lack of scoring shouldn’t have been much of a surprise. Thornton and Keller are Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, in the MLS in goals-against average. Keller has nine shutouts.
Meanwhile, Seattle (9-6-11) has now been shut out in four straight home games, and Chivas (11-9-4) has been shut out in six of its past seven road games.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game here,” said Chivas coach Preki, the former Tacoma Stars standout. “We knew that they were desperate for points like we are. We knew defensively we had to be very strong and not allow them to get behind us. I thought we worked really hard, and Zach made a couple saves for us, and we got the point.”
The bigger surprise might have been that Seattle had so many chances. Several of them involved rookie Steve Zakuani – so many that he couldn’t recall which had been the most promising.
“I think the header where Thornton made kind of a good save,” Zakuani said. “Another one when I don’t know who put it across, but I took a touch and had to shoot fast, but I put it high. … There was one in the first half where I head to Seba (Sebastien Le Toux), and Seba hits the ball, and I don’t know how he keeps the ball out. There’s nothing you can do against that.”
Except that the Sounders’ consensus seemed to be that enough has to be enough. An opponent can cautiously pack it in – as Chivas did. And a keeper can be dazzling – as Thornton was.
But Seattle took 12 shots and put half of them on goal, and at some point, one of them has to rip the net.
“We created three or four very clear chances that usually, you score,” said Freddie Ljungberg, who started at forward alongside Montero. “I must give (credit), that goalie made some amazing saves. It wasn’t that our finishes were poor; he made some amazing saves. But in a normal game, that’s too many clear-cut chances, and you have to score on one of them.”
The Sounders haven’t scored at home since a 2-1 win over Houston on July 11. Since then, they are 0-1-3 at Qwest and have gone 404 minutes without a goal at home.
Meanwhile, they have done better on the road. And that’s where they’ll be for their next three games before returning on Oct. 24 to face Dallas in the regular-season finale.
“I’d rather play at home, but we’re going to go get the points on the road,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “The points are out there, so we’ve got to take the points wherever they are. We don’t want to be coming back here for the last game of the season in a must-win situation to get into the playoffs.”
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