Sounders fail to clinch playoff berth after 0-0 draw with Houston

Oct 12, 2016, 9:56 PM | Updated: Oct 13, 2016, 8:31 am

As the Sounders faced their first chance at clinching a playoff spot against the Houston Dynamo on Wednesday, they were lucky to have two of their internationals, Jordan Morris and Nicolas Lodeiro, available for such a key match. Seattle looked like the better team for much of the night, but an inability to finish its many chances left the result as a 0-0 draw. The Sounders will have to wait to secure their spot in the playoffs.

The only significant players missing for the Sounders were Joevin Jones, who hasn’t yet returned from international duty, and Flaco Fernandez, who is out with a hamstring strain. Backup left-back Dylan Remick was out with a concussion, so rookie Tony Alfaro replaced Jones. Herculez Gomez replaced Fernandez on the right side of the attack. The Dynamo, which currently sits in last place, had a number of their top attackers for a match in which pride was the only thing at stake.

The Sounders picked out a few chances early, with Alfaro showing some nifty passing in the opening minutes with a great chance for Andreas Ivanschitz, but nothing came of it. Ivanschitz had another chance after picking up an errant Morris pass in the box, but his shot was right at the goalkeeper. Ivanschitz apparently sprained his right knee on that play, as he went down injured and was eventually substituted off for Erik Friberg.

Houston’s first big chance came in just before the 30-minute mark, when forward Will Bruin took advantage of some space near the top of the box and unleashed a shot that pinged off goalie Stefan Frei’s post and was cleared by the defense. Near the end of the half, Friberg found himself dancing through the defense and picking up on a through ball to go one-on-one with goalie Joe Willis, but both his first shot and his follow-up were saved well by the keeper. Minutes later, a foul by Ricardo Clark on Cristian Roldan near the top of the box gave the Sounders a great free-kick opportunity. Lodeiro’s subsequent free kick nearly found the net, but Willis tipped the ball over the bar.

The second half saw a little action from Houston early, including a shot that bounced off the post in the first few minutes. Seattle had a wealth of chances afterward, but their tendency to cross the ball into and over the box stopped them from doing anything particularly dangerous.

Some scuffling and eventual fisticuffs between Osvaldo Alonso and Will Bruin after the latter made a questionable tackle. It eventually ended in a red card and sending off for Alonso. Despite being down to 10 men, the Sounders continued to fly into the opposing third, but the final ball continued to elude them. Schmetzer introduced Oalex Anderson late in the half, hoping to use his speed against Houston’s tired legs. Despite their relentless attacking, the Sounders just couldn’t find the net.

Man of the match: Stefan Frei had a few solid saves that kept Seattle level, though the crossbar probably did the most defensive work.

Turning point: The Sounders weren’t necessarily guaranteed to score one regardless, but Alonso’s red card forced them to play it a little safe.

One reason to worry: Seattle could have clinched a playoff spot tonight, and they won’t have Alonso for the trip to Dallas on Sunday.

One reason to relax: They’ve still got two more chances to secure a spot in the playoffs, including at home against Real Salt Lake in two weeks.

Spenser Davis also covers the Sounders for Sounder at Heart.

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