Clean sheets hard to find for Sounders

don.ruiz@thenewstribune.comApril 28, 2014 

Happy as the Seattle Sounders were with their 4-1 win over the Colorado Rapids on Saturday, they didn’t get one thing they wanted: a shutout.

The Sounders are rolling in offensive achievements. Their 18 goals are tied with FC Dallas for the most in Major League Soccer, and they are alone at the top with 19 assists. Clint Dempsey, who scored two goals Saturday, leads MLS with eight goals, 30 shots and 14 shots on goal. Obafemi Martins is tied for the league lead with four assists, and Dempsey is right behind with three.

But that firepower has been needed, as Seattle’s 12 allowed goals rank among the most in the league. And the Sounders haven’t recorded a shutout since March.

That is a streak they wanted to end Saturday, as coach Sigi Schmid volunteered early in his postgame news conference: “Wish we hadn’t given up a goal. I wish we had a clean sheet.”

The Sounders carried a 3-0 lead into the 62nd minute, when Colorado’s Nick LaBrocca threaded a pass between defenders to Dillon Serna, who got the Rapids on the board at CenturyLink Field.

Despite the disappointment, Schmid acknowledged his defense generally played well. He even indicated all that offense could have made the shutout tougher to achieve.

“Obviously, we are disappointed to give up that goal, but at that point we are leading, 3-0, so maybe there was a concentration lapse,” he said. “Up until that point — at 3-0 — we didn’t give them much of anything. But we still need to make sure we can get that zero over the line.”

Seattle began its season with two shutouts over its first three games: a 1-0 win over Sporting Kansas City and a 2-0 victory at Montreal. However, since then, the Sounders have allowed two goals to Columbus, four at Portland, two to Dallas, and then one against Chivas USA and the Rapids.

“Our (goals against) average is coming down, which is great,” goalkeeper Stefan Frei said. “ … And a win is all that matters. Obviously, we want to get a shutout. We want to get to the point where we take pride in shutting teams out, but (this was) a big statement win.”

Frei, central defender Chad Marshall and right back DeAndre Yedlin have played every minute this season for the Sounders.

Djimi Traore usually has played alongside Marshall in the middle, although newcomer Jalil Anibaba was filling in when Portland unleashed its four-goal barrage.

There has been less consistency at left back, where injuries have limited six-year incumbent Leo Gonzalez to three starts. That has left second-year defender Dylan Remick to pick up the other five, including Saturday against the Rapids.

“I thought Dylan played really well,” Schmid said. “ … He completed his passes, (and) even on the sequence of Dempsey’s first goal, it was Dylan’s effort that kept the ball alive.”

Remick was part of the chorus voicing disappointment about not getting the shutout, but the Sounders’ final result and overall 5-2-1 record have lessened the sting.

“In the last few games, we gave up a goal and had to fight from behind,” he said. “(That) is good to our character, but it’s always good to go out and put a few goals in on a team and sort of take care of the game. We were pretty happy that we did that.”

ADDED TIME

Sounders FC (1-0-1) and Colorado (0-0-1) played to a 1-1 draw Sunday in MLS Reserve League play at Starfire Sports Stadium in Tukwila. Chad Barrett scored Seattle’s goal in the fourth minute. … The Sounders on Sunday recalled midfielder/forward David Estrada from loan with the Atlanta Silverbacks of the North American Soccer League. He played 207 minutes in three appearances after joining Atlanta on April 3. Estrada, 26, has appeared in 40 MLS games since being drafted by the Sounders in 2010, but none this season. … The Sounders will return to training Tuesday, preparing for their 7 p.m. Saturday visit from the Philadelphia Union.

Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 don.ruiz@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer @donruiztnt

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