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Undermanned Columbus holds on for 0-0 draw with Sounders

Columbus' Pedro Santos earned a red card in Saturday's draw with the Sounders. (AP)

By MATT PENTZ
Associated Press

SEATTLE (AP) – The Seattle Sounders played up a man for more than 75 minutes, fired off 45 crosses and took 16 shots, but were unable to get anything past Columbus goalkeeper Zach Steffen as the Crew and Sounders settled for a 0-0 draw Saturday.

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Columbus midfielder Pedro Santos was ejected in the 15th minute following a video review that confirmed his high kick struck Alex Roldan in the face.

But without top playmaker Nicolas Lodeiro – who sat with what coach Brian Schmetzer said was a foot injury – the Sounders couldn’t capitalize on their advantage. They’ve scored five goals in seven matches, the lowest rate in MLS.

“It’s frustrating,” Schmetzer said. “I think we’re better than that. The fact that we had to resort to just pumping balls into the box from the channels is not indicative of the play we’re capable of. We’re going to try to fix it.”

The Sounders (1-4-2), the defending Western Conference champions, remained at the bottom of standings. Columbus (4-3-3) is fifth in the East.

“I’m proud of the guys,” Crew coach Gregg Berhalter said. “I think we did well. It was an outstanding effort – the way we organized ourselves and defended and stayed disciplined. Under difficult conditions, on turf, pretty warm and down a man, I think the guys did a great job.”

Columbus created each of the most promising scoring opportunities of the first half. Forward Gyasi Zardes twice was alone behind the Seattle defense but couldn’t convert. Defender Milton Valenzuela also had a clean look from a few yards out in the 36th minute but shot over the crossbar.

Seattle’s Clint Dempsey had a couple of good chances in the second half. The 35-year-old forward first fired a free kick from just outside the Columbus box directly into the wall and then, in the 73rd minute, was denied by Steffen at close range.

“We’ve got to be willing to take chances,” Sounders forward Will Bruin said. “We’ve got to get some creativity, some flair. We’ve got to pass and move. We’ve got to try things. I think we’re too caught up with playing the simple pass. `I’m not going to make the mistake. I’m just going to move it to the next guy.’ You’re not going to score like that.”