With his top three forwards out due to injury, coach Sigi Schmid started 10 field players who had accounted for a total of 96 goals over their combined 625 MLS career games. None of the 10 has scored yet this season.
In fact, Seattle has just two goals over its first five MLS games: one each by forward Eddie Johnson and midfielder Brad Evans. Both players were out with injury Saturday in what turned out to be a scoreless draw with New England.
Also out were forwards Obafemi Martins and David Estrada. And that concentration of injuries at forward caused Schmid to move midfielders Steve Zakuani and Lamar Neagle up top. Both had chances. Zakuani took four shots and put two on goal. Neagle took two shots and put one on goal.
Afterward Schmid was asked about their performances:
On Neagle: "He needs to maybe get a few more looks himself onto goal. ... Lamar did what I asked him to do: He stayed high, he occupied the back two, he made runs in behind the defense, he won his duel with A.J. Soares in terms of the aerial duel and things like that. ... I was happy with how he played. I thought he put in a good shift."
On Zakuani: "In the Santos game (in Champions League) he was the guy that was most closely involved with the majority of our chances. ... I thought he did an even better job this game though, especially the first 45, staying high and being more of a threat to their back line. Again, he had two really quality looks in the first half, then he had a quality look that he created himself in the second half off the dribble. If you finish one of those three -- we don't need all three, I just need one of those three -- and (we win). There's nobody that feels worse than he does."
Schmid was right about that.
"The biggest disappointments for me are those small ones that can turn one point into three points," Zakuani said. "I feel more disappointed for my teammates because I really want to get those balls in. ... We just need one goal to go in. We just need it. That's the most disappointing thing."
Neagle played all 90 minutes. Zakuani went 74 minutes before being replaced by Philip Lund in his MLS debut.
It isn't yet known if any of the three injured forwards will return Saturday, when the Sounders begin a three-game road trip at Colorado. Johnson has a hamstring injury, Martins a leg tendon injury, and Estrada an eye injury.
Schmid was asked after the New England game if one of those forwards might have turned an opportunity into a goal.
"They're all soccer players, so they should all finish," he said. "If you had an actual forward there, maybe if he gets that opportunity, maybe his quality is better. That's why some guys start and other guys don't. The guys right now today were Neagle and Zakuani and it was their opportunity to try to finish something. The next time we'll have to see. We'll obviously have to find somebody who can finish consistently and at the same time supply us as well with the work rate we need."
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