However, 20 shots, 635 total passes and 67.8 percent possession did not equate to a Union goal. The Union left the field disappointed with a 0-0 draw against the Sounders, who were set up to earn a point from the opening minute.
“When a team sits back like that, it’s always hard,” Union midfielder Brenden Aaronson said. “It’s frustrating. You’re going to get limited chances, we know that. But when you have that chance, you need to score, and that’s what we struggled with. We all have faults and we all miss our chances, so it happens.”
After struggling to break through Seattle’s defensive line for the first 45 minutes, the Union set up camp in the final third in the second half.
Jim Curtin’s side tried to break down the Sounders with its starting XI for the first 10 minutes of the second half, but that came to no avail and led to Ilsinho coming on to the field.
The Union played their style of isolation ball on the right wing with the Brazilian working his way through double teams and opening up gaps with his passing and technical ability.
“Sometimes on the bench we can watch the game and see what is waiting for us and then when I jump in the game, I know what kind of movement I can do to open space or create something,” Ilsinho said.
May 18, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Seattle Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer talks to Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin prior to a game at Talen Energy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Even though the Union played with more of a spark in and around the box with Ilsinho on the field, they failed to significantly test Stefan Frei.
“We dominated them and created a lot of chances,” Ilsinho said. “It’s frustrating because we didn’t win. That’s the worst thing. We dominate them. They come here to draw and then we are so better than them all game. We created a lot of chances and that’s the worst part. We played better. We created the chances. Today wasn’t a nice day to us.”
When the Seattle goalkeeper was called into action, he rose to the occasion, with his best denial coming from point-blank range on a Kacper Przybyłko header in the 59th minute.
Frei also made a terrific save on one of the few scoring opportunities in the first half by diving to his right and denying Aaronson.
The Union kept pushing for a goal deep into second-half stoppage time, with a few dangerous crosses causing a bit of danger to the Sounders defense. But when the final whistle blew, the Union left the field with no goals to show for their controlling performance against one of the best sides in the Western Conference.
“I think it is a sign of respect for sure, but you always want teams to come out and try to play you,” Aaronson said. “It’s not the best when a team is just sitting back. If teams are going to come here and try to get a point against us, I guess that’s what they have to do.”
“Most of the teams, they come here just to defend,” Ilsinho said. “For me, they got lucky today. It could be 5-0, but it was 0-0. They got lucky. We played better. We created the chances. We just have to keep going and go to the next game.”