Sounders at a crossroads as winless stretch rolls on
PORTLAND, Ore. — The troubling trends continued in just about every way for the Seattle Sounders.
In seven straight games, they have now given up the first goal.
In seven straight games, they have now failed to hold a lead at any point.
And in seven straight games, they have failed to pull out a victory.
The latest, while certainly not the worst performance, may have been the most frustrating. Facing the Portland Timbers, their biggest rival, the Sounders gave up a pair of early goals and ultimately fell 2-1 on Sunday.
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They’ve now claimed just three points in their past seven, easily their worst stretch in their MLS history.
“It’s not good enough,” Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said.
When asked if this was the worst he’s felt after a regular-season loss, Schmid took it a step further.
“I don’t feel good about these series of games,” he said. “The team in the locker room has to decide what team is the Seattle Sounders. Are they the Seattle Sounders that played the first seven games of the season or the Sounders that have played the last eight games of the season?
“They are at the crossroads where they have to make a decision which team they are.”
Schmid pointed to set pieces as an obvious area where the team lacks cohesion, identifying numerous instances when players were just not on the same page. The Timbers’ second goal, for instance, came when David Horst was allowed to get a free header after no one picked him up.
Horst nearly scored off a similar play earlier in the game and told the media after the game that the he simply had to head the ball down instead of up when he got another point-blank look.
It wasn’t any better on offense. One notable example was in the 84th minute when Fredy Montero elected to take a quick free kick instead of setting up a play. He seemed to catch the Timbers off-guard, but his pass toward the byline rolled harmlessly out of bounds.
The mistakes were hardly limited to set pieces, but they were illustrative what might be a lack of focus on the finer details.
“Everyone should go home and watch the film and watch themselves individually — myself included,” Sounders goalkeeper Andrew Weber said. “Everyone can go home and start worrying about their game. If you start working on your game and what you have to do, it’s only going to help the team.”
The trick now is keeping this already troubling run from snowballing into something that can really cause the season to unravel.
“When things are going bad it seems like it’s the end of the world,” Weber said. “People start talking and you can buy into what people are going to say. But it’s us 30 guys and the staff just dialing in and just working hard, looking in the mirror and saying we have to do this.
“You can’t go out there and just say we’re going to win the game, you have to prove you can win the game,” he added. “Let’s go fight to win. Let’s earn the win. I think it’s there, but it’s taking a little too long to get into the game. That’s gotta change.”
Jeremiah Oshan covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com and SB Nation.