Seattle Sounders FC and Real Salt Lake scored a total of one goal in three regular season meetings. So perhaps a 0-0 draw in the first clash between the two teams in the playoffs Western Conference semifinal shouldn't have come as a surprise.
RSL had the better of the regular season meetings, winning one and drawing too. It also will be more pleased with the draw on Friday, since the second leg is headed back to Utah on Thursday.
The first half was a battle of goalkeepers. Both made a series of impressive saves, with the best coming at the half hour mark. Seattle won a pair of corners with Sammy Ochoa and John Kennedy Hurtado -- sporting a clear face mask -- directing headers on frame. But Nick Rimando pulled off two acrobatic diving saves to keep his net unmolested.
Rimando's impact on the game told deep in the second half when he clashed with a combination of Kyle Beckerman and Christian Tiffert. Despite blood from a cut on his face marring his gloves, the nearly 35,000 in CenturyLink Field (a record low for Seattle in the playoffs) booed the goalkeeper when he collected the ball next.
Rimando made a total of three saves in the three regular season meetings. He bettered that in this one game, pulling off five blocks, with Seattle edging the chances. Not that Michael Gspurning sat quietly; the Austrian blocked four to do his part in the scoreless draw.
These teams met at the same stage in last year's playoffs. Salt Lake advanced in 2011. Seattle will require better finishing on Thursday to avoid a repeat one year later. Designated Player Fredy Montero has yet to score a playoff goal. The Sounders will hope Eddie Johnson, who missed the first leg through injury, can recover in time.
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