SEATTLE – Losses have been few and far between for the Seattle Sounders over the past three months.
That doesn’t much matter when they are playing the San Jose Earthquakes.
The Sounders’ 2-1 loss to the Earthquakes on Saturday was just the second game they’ve dropped over their past 13. The other loss? To the Earthquakes, who also won the first meeting and swept the season series despite two of three games being played at CenturyLink Field.
“It’s not going to happen again and that’s the mindset we have to have,” Sounders midfielder Brad Evans said.
Although the Sounders once again played the Earthquakes relatively even – as they have in each of their encounters – this one was largely decided in the first half.
The Sounders got off to a nightmare start by allowing Simon Dawkins to score in the 2nd minute and even after Steve Zakuani equalized in the 14th minute, the Earthquakes still dominated much of the first half.
San Jose employed high pressure and created numerous turnovers, which directly factored into both of their goals.
The first started with a turnover near midfield that put the Sounders on their heels. The second one came after a corner that the Sounders created with a missed back pass.
Even though the Sounders had a slight possession advantage, the Earthquakes still ended up outshooting the Sounders 11-3 in the first 45 minutes.
“I’m worried about our first half,” Sounders goalkeeper Michael Gspurning said. “San Jose is a good team and we know this. You can’t present yourself in the first half like this.
“We were lucky it’s not a playoff game because we’d be out right now. That’s a tough lesson we have to learn.”
If the Sounders actually learned that lesson, some positives could still come from the loss.
“I think it’s a great game from the standpoint that it happened now, and not six weeks from now,” Schmid said. “We need to take a lesson from this game, that we cannot play like played in the first half, that we need to play like we played in the second half. If we get that out of this game – fine.”
For now, though, the Sounders must deal with the harsh reality that their hopes of a Supporters’ Shield are all but officially gone. The Sounders had been treating this game as if it was a must-win, which showed in their desperation as the clock wound down.
“This feels like a playoff loss,” Evans said. “We’ve lost eight games since March, this one probably hurts the worst.”
Even beyond any emotional damage the game may have done, the Sounders also must deal with some unwanted pressure in the standings. The Sounders now find themselves in fourth place in the Western Conference, a point behind the LA Galaxy and Real Salt Lake.
“We just need to make sure we win games,” Schmid said. “We can sit here and say the sky is falling, but I don’t think it’s falling yet.”
Jeremiah Oshan covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com and SB Nation.