- Associated Press - Thursday, October 13, 2016

SEATTLE (AP) - Most nights, Stefan Frei would be thrilled with a shutout on the scoresheet and a point in the standings.

On Wednesday, the Seattle keeper and the rest of the Sounders clearly were hoping for more.

Frei made five saves, deflecting one shot off the right post, and the Sounders played to a 0-0 tie with the Houston Dynamo.

The draw moved the Sounders (13-13-6, 45 points) closer to securing a spot in the MLS playoffs. The Dynamo (7-13-12, 33 points) already have been eliminated.

Seattle, which has surged to a 7-1-4 record since Brian Schmetzer took over coaching duties in late July, could have clinched a spot with a win. Now, it will have to pick up points in either of its final two regular season games, or hope that San Jose and Portland come up short in their final games.

“We’ve gone on a tremendous run, and it’s really nice to string together wins and climb the table,” Frei said, who earned his eighth clean sheet. “This was the opportunity to reward us for all that hard work. Today was the opportunity to get something out of it and not just have another win. We kind of blew that chance.

“With that being said, there’s more chances left to take care of those other two games.”

Seattle played the final 26 minutes with 10 men after midfielder Osvaldo Alonso was sent off with a straight red card following a scuffle with Bruin. The Houston forward received a yellow card.

“One of the things that sticks out is we shoot ourselves in the foot again by getting a silly red card,” Frei said. “Those are things we have to eliminate because we have enough quality and desire to succeed.”

Houston nearly got on the board in the 30th minute on a shot by Will Bruin from the top of the penalty area. But Frei dove to his left, got a hand on the ball, and watched it bounce off of the right post.

Just 9 minutes later, Frei went the other way to knock away a blast by Andrew Wenger.

Dynamo goalkeeper Joe Willis did his part in the other net. He stopped Seattle’s Erik Friberg twice just seconds apart in the 40th minute, and finished with seven saves for his fifth shutout.

In the second half, Seattle’s Roman Torres and Chad Marshall both had headers off of corner kicks that went wide. The Sounders outshot Houston, 15-11, had 11 corners to the Dynamo’s five, and owned 61 percent of the possession.”

“I think we did find some patience. I just didn’t know if we were quite sharp enough in that final third when we had a lot of corner kicks,” Schmetzer said. “We needed a couple more quality looks on goal to get us that first goal.”

Seattle and Houston have played to four straight ties, including all three games this season.

“This is a difficult place to come play, so I’m really happy with the shutout,” said Dynamo coach Wade Barrett, whose team had surrendered three goals in three of the past six outings. “We’ve given up a couple goals in the past couple games, so I’m always pleased when we put in the defensive work like that - and that was from everybody in the group.”

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