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Scoreless in Seattle: Austin FC draws against No. 1 Seattle Sounders in underdog battle

Austin FC's Jon Gallagher is back on the starting lineup as the club takes on Seattle. (Austin FC/Twitter)

Austin FC may have been 'scoreless in Seattle,' but they'll still tack on a point in the rankings and a boost in confidence after forcing the Sounders to their first shutout of the season on Sunday.

With a dwindling roster due to injuries and two straight scoreless losses, Austin FC needed a pick-me-up as they headed to the West Coast. This match did not seem to be the cure: the Sounders are one of two undefeated clubs in the MLS, and the team sits atop the West.

Head coach Josh Wolff said Seattle is the best team in the league. "There's no doubt about it," Wolff said.

The clubs' infamy makes the scoreless draw that much sweeter for Wolff and Austin FC. "I think it gives our guys a bit of satisfaction that we could come here, roll up our sleeves a bit and compete."

Austin started slow in their David-and-Goliath match, losing in possession for the first time this season as Seattle latched onto the ball for 63% of the first half. They also faced the formidable Raul Ruidiaz, who is second in goals only to Chicharito in MLS, and an unconventional 3-5-2 lineup that threw Austin off at the start of the match.

Seattle has steamrolled competition in offense, while Austin lost defenders Jhohan Romana, Ben Sweat and Hector Jimenez to injuries on the road. Even with several men short on the bench, however, Austin's back line shone.

Center back Matt Besler, who saw his 300th regular season appearance this match, kept the holes plugged as he prevented Ruidiaz and Christian Roldan from sneaking one in goal.

Austin FC captain Alex Ring said that the club has adjusted to the rotating door on the back line and is working on recovery.

"No one's going to help us but ourselves," Ring said. "We have to dig ourselves out of the hole we put ourselves in. We know we can trust these guys even if they haven't had a couple of games to do their best and I think that was important for us today."

Both clubs had just a few shots on goal as they headed into the 77th minute of play, when Sounders players flooded the box that Austin FC keeper Brad Stuver had fought so hard to protect. Seattle's Fredy Montero pinballed one in, and the match looked to be 1-0 Sounders.

In a twist of fate much like last week's match, when Austin's Jared Stroud lost a chance at his first goal with the team to an offsides call, Ruidiaz was ruled offsides.

Austin would leave the match 0-0, losing an opportunity to win but earning a point in MLS rankings.

The club takes on Sporting Kansas City for a rematch in their final road test before their home opener on Saturday, June 12, three weeks after Austin lost 2-1 to the club.

The match saw Ring receive his first career red card and many blamed the captain for the loss. In a rare stroke of vulnerability, Ring apologized for the red card and the events that unfolded after.

"I'm going to apologize because I always play my everything for the team," Ring said. "I take the responsibility for that. I know that the club supports me and they know I always give my best."

Ring said the club fell into a slump where they lost their identity, but they're back on track as they head into the rematch.

"When you play on our team, when you come to Austin, you run your ass off and you play with your heart on your sleeve," Ring said. "We play together."


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