SEATTLE — It’s not that the Sounders wanted to play defensive-minded midfielders Amadou Sanyang and Servando Carrasco alongside one another. They were simply the only center mids available.
That general storyline played out over the Seattle starting XI as the Sounders dropped a 1-0 decision at home to Herediano of Costa Rica.
A Sounders offense that had been humming along in recent weeks went quiet, managing only one shot on goal in the first half. The lack of firepower led to Seattle’s demise, as the home team could not overcome a first-half goal from Yosimar Arias.
“Obviously, we’re dealing with some injuries and a heavy schedule, so we have to make some lineup decisions based upon that," said head coach Sigi Schmid. "But at the end of the day, our quality tonight wasn’t good enough."
For Pat Noonan, the first half struggles came as a result of giving away possession too cheaply.
“I think a lot of our problems came from our own mistakes with passing,” said Noonan, who started alongside Nate Jaqua. “It took us about 45 minutes to figure out their formation and understand where we needed to be to cut off passing angles. But when we did win the ball, we just gave it right back with some careless passes.”
Schmid also pointed toward the lax marking in the middle as a culprit of reduced offensive output. The team’s performance improved upon the insertion of Osvaldo Alonso and Fredy Montero in the 56th minute, but Seattle weren’t able to equalize.
“The game certainly changed when they came into the game,” Schmid said. “They’re quality players.
“Alonso got us a little quicker to our marks in midfield, which is what I asked him to do,” Schmid added. “Montero was able to hold the ball for us a little bit up front and allow people to join in.”
Schmid explained some of the lineup decisions in his post-match comments. Why go with Noonan and Jaqua up top? Because Montero needed a rest, Mike Fucito picked up a slight ankle injury against D.C. United, and debutante Sammy Ochoa isn’t yet fit enough start.
In other areas of the field, Mauro Rosales’ injury against DC further limited Seattle’s options, as did recent injuries to Erik Friberg and Brad Evans.
The result was a feisty team effort against a Herediano squad that played better than their 1-3-0 record would indicate.
Despite tonight’s performance, Seattle’s hopes of advancing in the Champions League are far from snuffed. A draw against either Comunicaciones or Monterrey in the final two matches would put Seattle through to the knockout stage with 10 points.
Andrew Winner covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewWinnerMLS