Sounders stall high-scoring Atlanta in scoreless draw

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Saturday April 1st, 2017

SEATTLE (AP) — Playing with two defenders who hadn't seen a minute of action this season, the Seattle Sounders became the first team to ground free-scoring Atlanta United, battling to a nil-all draw at home on Friday.

The Sounders already had Jordy Delem in line for his first-ever MLS game when they were forced to replace central defensive stalwart Chad Marshall just a few minutes before kickoff because of an illness. Marshall was replaced by Tony Alfaro.

Atlanta came in with 11 goals over its first three games, just one behind league-leading Portland, but couldn't find a way past Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei.

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In the 87th minute Frei dived to stop a 22-yard shot from straight on by Miguel Almiron. Frei also came up big in the 12th minute when he went down and stripped the ball off the left foot of Hector Villalba at the top left corner of the penalty area.

Seattle's best chance fell to veteran striker Clint Dempsey, who saw his 58th minute header from six yards bounce off the crossbar.

Seattle moved to five points in the Western Conference, while Atlanta moved to seven points and tops the Eastern Conference.

In Friday's other match, Toronto FC and Sporting Kansas City maintained their unbeaten starts to the season with a scoreless draw in the driving rain at Toronto.

The best chance for either team came just before the hour, when Toronto striker Sebastian Giovinco's free kick skimmed off the top of the crossbar.

Toronto FC and Sporting Kansas City both have six points from four games.

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