Rookie Nick DeLeon was active again for United
We expected goals, but both sides failed to find the net. The RFK stadium south goal's crossbar won Man of the Match honors, stopping each team once as D.C. United drew the Seattle Sounders 0-0 at RFK Stadium.
The offense showed flashes, combining and interchanging well through 1- and 2-touch passing, and pressuring Michael Gspurning's goal for sustained periods. Unfortunately, the final ball was missing throughout the night, and United only managed to put four shots on frame.
The same story held true at the other end of the field, as United's defense stepped up to limit the Sounders to a measly two shots on goal - with Seattle's best chance coming through Marc Burch of all people at the death. Emiliano Dudar and Dejan Jakovic kept David Estrada and Fredy Montero quiet. Dudar, in particular won nearly every battle he was asked to fight with Montero.
In the midfield, both teams kept it narrow through the first half, a fact that, when combined with referee Edvin Jurisevic's aggressively inconsistent and jumpy whistle, led to a disjointed feel to the first 45'. Both sides did find some joy down the flanks, though, and thankfully came out in the second half looking to exploit space on the outside, creating a much more open and exciting second half.
The big battle coming into the night was Dwayne De Rosario against Seattle d-mid Osvaldo Alonso. I think it's safe to say that for the first hour or so, defense won that battle. I mean that going both ways: DeRo was mostly quiet due to Alonso's strong marking and on-ball defending, while Alonso had no space to set the tempo for Seattle's attack thanks to DeRo's tireless pressure.
With the lack of goals and many true scoring opportunities, the biggest story in the long term might be the return of pre-broken leg Chris Pontius. After entering near the hour mark for Danny Cruz, Pontius crafted opportunity after opportunity down the left side - stripping Eddie Johnson 1v1 in Seattle's half at one point, and immediately breaking the other direction.
The game nearly ended in disappointment for United, as Marc Burch headed a rebound off the crossbar during second half stoppage time. After all the talk about being a better left back than Daniel Woolard, Burch, of course, did not start. Once he entered the match in the waning moments - to a chorus of boos, no less (so much for good-natured ribbing) - he nearly stole the headlines. Luckily, his head (like his foot) has a propensity to send the ball high, too.
Ultimately, even with the nearly stolen goal at the end, I think Seattle is going to feel pretty satisfied with the road point, while D.C. will feel they left points on the table. Everything was there for United - solidity across the back, good combinations going forward - everything, that is, except the final ball. Crosses generally found the feet of Sounders or were punched out by Gspurning (whose control of his box was probably most responsible for keeping United off the board).
Joe Willis gets another shutout, but Dudar gets my Man of the Match nod for keeping Montero quiet and the back line organized.
So let's hear it. Who impressed, and who disappointed? How do you feel about dropping (more) points at home? Does it help that we kept Seattle's potent attack scoreless? I should note that that's the second time this year that United has blanked a supposed goal scoring machine from the Pac-NW. It's also the third time in five games United has been kept out of the net.
Up next: actual Eastern Conference teams!