All things considered, an early-season road draw against the defending MLS Cup champions is typically sufficient for most teams.
However, the feeling after Saturday's 1-1 draw in Seattle could be categorized as unfulfilled, as the takeaways veered less towards contentment and more so of an early reminder that this Club is bringing an insatiable attitude to 2020.
“Normally I would feel good about a draw on the road against last year’s MLS Cup champion on their home pitch, but I think our standards have been raised," said Head Coach Caleb Porter after Saturday's match.
"I think in some ways we’re grounded a little bit with the feeing of the draw because our standards have raised," Porter continued. "There’s a lot to learn from the game. They’re a very good team, Seattle. They definitely threw the kitchen sink at us in the second half. You saw it last week when they were down, so good by us to get through...The good news is, getting better without losing is the way we want to do it this year.”
After Gyasi Zardes capped off a great team-goal in the 33rd minute, the Crew withstood a second-half barrage from the Sounders, who posted 10 shots in the latter 45 minutes - including eight from inside the box - though only two found themselves on target due in large-part to a cohesive defensive effort.
Leftback Milton Valenzuela subbed out at the start of the second half, so Chris Cadden got his first taste of meaningful MLS minutes on turf in one of the League's toughest environments. Meanwhile, Homegrown Player Aboubacar Keita earned his first start of 2020 and, among other things, earned an important aerial win that ultimately helped position Lucas Zelarayan for a last-second free kick which he nearly converted.
Goalkeeper Eloy Room recorded three saves and nearly recorded his third shutout with the Crew but a retaken penalty kick nullified his initial denial, while Jonathan Mensah led the game in clearances, including a key header away from danger (one of many) in the final minute of stoppage time.
Post-match, Room echoed Porter's comments in that the Club's standards have been raised.
"Maybe last season we were happy with this point," Room said, with emphasis on the past tense. "Of course the point is important and it is a difficult road game. I felt we were more in the game and especially how we conceded the goal like that...I think if we would have played some situations a little bit better we could have scored more. We have to learn from this but we will take this point home.”
Offensively, the Crew totaled three shots on goal - as did Seattle - and maintained nearly 44 percent of the possession while beating out Seattle in duels won, 59-51.
Knowing road results always come into play come September and October, the result was bittersweet, Mensah said.
“It is an okay result, but we will take it...At the start of the season you have to make sure you are bagging some points because down the road you need it. Disappointed, but you know we still are happy with the point,” he said.
For Porter, a big takeaway from Saturday is that this Crew team can play with anyone.
"When we pass the ball, play our game and control games, press from the front and play as a team, we can play with anybody," Porter said.
"We scored a great goal and there were some good moments on the day. It’s never easy against the Seattle Sounders on the road. We got four points in two games and haven’t been beaten, but we have to be a lot better.”
Up next, the Crew host Real Salt Lake on Saturday, March 14 at 5 p.m. ET at MAPFRE Stadium. | TICKETS