Over 15,000 vocal fans packed RFK Stadium yesterday to see an inter-coastal rivalry renewed for the only time this year, and both sets of supporters walked away satisfied as on the pitch the two teams battled to a 0-0 draw. Despite the lack of scoring, the game was an up-tempo one that either team could have taken all three points but lacked the finishing touch to do so. The best chance of all may have been from a former DCU player, who missed the opportunity to take a little revenge on his previous team.
The first half saw both teams threaten but neither score, with Seattle having more chances and DC having the best opportunity. In the 24th minute Nick DeLeon’s centering pass from the left found Hamdi Salihi with a step on the defender but the Albanian forward’s shot hit the post and went over the net. On the other end Freddy Montero found himself open on a Sounders corner but he mishit the shot and it went wide harmlessly. Otherwise, both teams tried to advance through the middle and create opportunities through their central midfielders (who are both quite good). The wings were well locked down early by both team’s fullbacks and the wide attack was abandoned for most of the game. At halftime, there were as many cards (two) as shots on target.
The second half took up where the first left off with both teams threatening through the middle. DC coach Ben Olsen made two quick substitutions in the 2nd half, bringing on Chris Pontius and Branko Boskovic to spur the offense forward. It almost paid off in the 74th minute when Chris Pontius broke free of the defense on the left of keeper Michael Gspurning and sent a shot across net just wide. But it was a Seattle defender who had the game’s best chance. Marc Burch, who earlier in the week had made some bulletin board comments about his old team, came into the game in the 90th minute to a chorus of boos from the home faithful. As stoppage time was winding down, Osvaldo Alonso – who was the player of the game for either team – blistered a shot that forced DC keeper Joe Willis to make a diving save and large rebound to Burch. The fullback tried to score off a header but his shot hit the post and bounced away from goal.
After the game Ben Olsen summarized the game as: “offensively, [n]either team was really at their best; it was a pretty physical battle… a blue collar game”.
Both teams remain mid-table in their respective conferences and can take a point away knowing they were playing in adverse circumstances – DC against one of the league’s best teams and Seattle playing on the East Coast. While neither should be ashamed of their performance overall tonight, it should serve as an impetus for their next games, DC at New England and Seattle hosting Colorado.