SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The Seattle Sounders may not have needed any more ups and downs on the emotional roller-coaster they’ve been on this week, but they managed to squeeze in two more nonetheless.
Just a minute after Fredy Montero appeared to salvage a point for the Sounders by scoring a 92nd minute equalizer, the San Jose Earthquakes managed to pull out another improbable victory with a stoppage time goal of their own to win 2-1 on Saturday.
Steven Lenhart’s header off a Shea Salinas corner gave the Sounders their second gut-wrenching defeat of the week, following their penalty-shootout loss in the US Open Cup final on Wednesday.
HIGHLIGHTS: SJ 2, SEA 1
“It’s normal that you have one game like today,” Sounders goalkeeper Michael Gspurning, who was basically helpless on the game-winner. “It shouldn’t happen, but it happens. But to have it within three days, to have two so unlucky games, I’ve never seen it before.
“It’s a week if we get over this mentally, then it makes us stronger. But those are just words. We didn’t reach our targets for this week and we have to speak about this.”
There will undoubtedly be some discussions about Lenhart’s goal.
“It’s inexcusable to give up that goal late,” Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said. “We’ve talked about it. We showed them examples of it. We had done a good job on Lenhart on all the free kicks and corners until then. But you can’t give him a free path where he has a 3-4-yard run up to the ball because he’s a big guy and he runs well. … We made plans for him.”
The Sounders had entered the week feeling pretty good about themselves. They were riding a nine-game unbeaten streak across all competitions and had just beaten the LA Galaxy 4-0.
But the midweek loss to Sporting Kansas City was a costly one from a physical standpoint, and left the Sounders with a bit of a patchwork lineup against the Earthquakes.
Sounders forward Sammy Ochoa received his first league start of the season, Zach Scott made a rare appearance at center back and Brad Evans was playing right midfield. Newly minted Designated Player Christian Tiffert also made his first-ever start for the Sounders. The Sounders still managed to create numerous scoring chances and even outplayed the Supporters’ Shield-leading Earthquakes for chunks of time.
“The guys adapted well,” Schmid said. “I thought all the guys stepped up pretty much and did what we asked them to do. At the end of the day, we make a mistake with 15-20 seconds to go in the game and that’s the last piece of the puzzle. It’s like we have the whole puzzle in front of us and we have to add that last piece.
“We just gotta keep going. With our character, we’re right there. I don’t think there’s any team in the league we have to fear.”
Jeremiah Oshan covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com and SB Nation.