By Don Ruiz The News Tribune
SEATTLE —The Seattle Sounders played their fifth game of the MLS season Saturday.
For the fifth time, they did not win. For the third time, they did not score.
“Just a little bit of deja vu in terms of you’ve got to finish your chances,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “If you finish your chances, you win games.”
The Sounders had chances in their scoreless draw with New England at CenturyLink Field. Seattle took 13 shots, several from promising position.
However, once again, there were no true forwards around to take those shots. Would-be starters Eddie Johnson and Obafemi Martins were unavailable due to injury, as was top reserve David Estrada.
In their absence, Schmid moved natural midfielders Steve Zakuani and Lamar Neagle up top. They were active, taking four and two shots respectively and accounting for the three attempts Seattle put on target.
But none went in.
“I just can’t buy one at the moment,” Zakuani said. “But these things happen in football. … I know that once that first one goes in, it turns around. Overall, we are happy with how we played. But at this point I think the result is what’s most important, and we didn’t get it again.”
The Sounders fell to 0-3-2, remaining the only winless team in MLS.
Game statistics reflected an urgency to end that distinction, as Seattle won 58 percent of the duels and held 68.5 percent of the possession. But New England goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth made the three saves he needed to make, and the Revs (1-2-2) walked away with the same standings point as Seattle.
“It’s disappointing,” said Seattle midfielder Shalrie Joseph, who played a decade with New England. “The feeling throughout the locker room is a feeling of disappointment. We put out a great effort as a team. We created chances. We moved the ball well. But at the end of the day, not getting three points is disappointing and frustrating.”
Schmid saw some encouragement in the Sounders recording their first shutout in nine games across MLS and Champions League.
However, goalkeeper Michael Gspurning took no consolation in that.
“I haven’t cared, to be honest, that I didn’t have a shutout before the game, and I don’t care that I have a shutout now,” he said. “We are all disappointed as a team, and if one or two statistics are in our favor, we cannot buy anything from this. A win would be by far better.”
Still in pursuit of that goal, the Sounders now face three straight road matches: at Colorado, Philadelphia and Kansas City. And when they return home in mid-May it will be for games against reigning Western Conference champion San Jose and current Western Conference leader Dallas.
“We wanted this win,” Neagle said. “We had our chances that we could have put away. We really needed the three points at home before going on these road games.”
United States men’s national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann attended the match while in town to tour local facilities before the USA-Panama World Cup qualifier June 11 at CenturyLink Field.
Klinsmann said he was disappointed that Sounders Johnson and midfielder Brad Evans, who have national team experience, were unavailable due to injury. He also updated the difficulties in getting clearance to call in midfielder Osvaldo Alonso, who defected from Cuba.
“He deserves a chance, he deserves a possibility, but it’s not in our hands unfortunately,” Klinsmann said. “If Cuba is not giving us a clearance – is not giving us a bit of help – FIFA is very kind of strict on those matters. We’re on it, but no movement so far.”
Alonso said he still hopes something will be worked out.
“I know the situation is complicated, and I know there have been conversations,” he said. “My only hope is that through the work that is happening right now that I will have an opportunity to play for the national team.”