Revolution, Sounders end in scoreless draw

“What we lacked was a higher tempo."

New England Revolution's Juan Agudelo, center, and Seattle Sounders's Victor Rodriguez (8) battle for the ball during the second half of an MLS soccer game in Foxborough, Mass., Saturday, July 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
The Revolution's Juan Agudelo (center) and the Sounders’ Victor Rodriguez (left) battle for the ball during the second half at Gillette Stadium. –MICHAEL DWYER/ASSOCIATED PRESS

FOXBOROUGH — The 16,484 who filled Gillette Stadium to see the New England Revolution host Seattle on Saturday evening may have been better off staying put in their pregame perches on the concourse at Patriot Place.

Fans who did make their way into Gillette’s lower bowl were treated to an utterly lethargic contest as neither side had a goal to show for its efforts.

The scoreless affair marked New England’s seventh straight game without a loss. Meanwhile Seattle (4-9-4) failed to notch a goal for the ninth time this season.

Saturday’s proceedings even induced a yawn from New England head coach Brad Friedel, who divulged Seattle’s unique tactics in a loose postgame press conference.

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“I was just going to ask if you guys were still awake,’’ joked Friedel to members of the media. “I don’t think we have many games like this that aren’t exciting. I don’t really know what to say. I answered a few questions at halftime and there was nothing to be seen.’’

Friedel then recounted his conversation with Seattle head coach Brian Schmetzer after the final buzzer, revealing that the Sounders came to Foxborough with the intention of bunkering down and mucking up the tempo in hopes of escaping with a point.

“They only wanted a draw,’’ said Friedel. “[Schmetzer] said after the game, ‘Sorry we played like that, but we had to.’ I don’t know why they had to. I know they’re in a bad situation this season. They still have some wonderful players on their team.’’

Seattle had a sound excuse for its conservative strategy, having traveled on just three days rest after winning, 2-1, in the Colorado altitude Wednesday night. New England (7-4-7) failed to exploit Seattle’s dormant attack.

Neither side was able to gain traction in the first half or maintain any semblance of flow as passes trailed astray and displays of chippiness went appropriately penalized. Both attacks failed to register a shot on goal for the game’s opening 70-plus minutes. Seattle’s only effort came in the 73rd minute on a can of corn sent from near midfield directly into the hands of Revolution keeper Matt Turner, who recorded his fourth shutout of the season.

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In the rare instance Seattle was able to create a sliver of space on its attack, Revolution defenders Andrew Farrell and Jalil Anibaba were there to extinguish the fire, sealing any gaps that had been pried open.

“The onus was on us to go out and play,’’ said Friedel. “What we lacked was a higher tempo. Any system that gets put in front of you, you have to try and break it down.’’

The Revolution did bump their urgency levels up a notch in the second half. Gabriel Somi was inserted in place of Claude Dielna, who passed his fitness test Saturday morning but was only able to last the first 45 minutes before being pulled. Somi provided a much-needed boost for New England down the left sideline.

The Revolution tallied four corner kicks in the second frame after recording none in the first half, though nary a single one found its intended target.

“I thought the second half we were a bit better and there was more energy to the game,’’ said Friedel. “Gabriel I thought added a really good spark on the left side. He had some very good runs in the second half.’’

Friedel made another move in the 56th minute, trying to sprinkle some offensive pep into his lineup by yanking defensive-minded midfielder Scott Caldwell in favor of forward Juan Agudelo and moving Kelyn Rowe to the middle.

On the opposing end, Seattle forward Clint Dempsey, who was drafted by New England in 2004 and played for the team for three seasons, entered as a sub in the 62nd minute. His insertion didn’t have much of an impact on a Seattle squad that entered Saturday sitting 22nd out of 23 MLS franchises in shots recorded on goal.

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Friedel was succinct in relaying the only positive to come of the soccer that had just transpired.

“The positive to it all is we have a clean sheet and we’ll take a point and move onto [the Los Angeles] Galaxy next weekend,’’ he said.

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