Six straight without a win. A franchise-worst four-game losing streak. At this point, the Seattle Sounders have to be wondering how low they can go.
Their 2-0 loss to FC Dallas on Saturday was the fifth straight game in which a victory would have punched their ticket to the playoffs. Now, they’ll need to hope for other Western Conference results to go their way or else they will head into their final match of the season needing a win over the LA Galaxy in order to avoid missing the playoffs for the first time in the franchise’s five MLS seasons.
“It rests on my shoulders that we haven’t been able to come up with combinations that work for us,” Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid told reporters afterward. “We’ve had some chances but haven’t been able to convert those chances. Guys are trying, they’re fighting and battling. The combinations on the field just haven’t been able to produce the goals that we wanted and needed at this point. The guys are obviously disappointed.”
Similarly to their last loss against the Portland Timbers, the Sounders generated some quality scoring chances, but just couldn’t convert.
Brad Evans, in particular, twice had open looks at the goal. His first came around the 52nd minute when DeAndre Yedlin found Evans unmarked at the back post. But Evans’ volley attempt from about six yards out went high of the crossbar.
Shortly after FC Dallas had taken the lead, Clint Dempsey put Evans through for a one-on-one chance. But Evans’ attempt from about 12 yards out went just wide.
“The fight and desire is always there,” Evans said. “It’s just execution at the front and the back. We had two good chances to make it 1-1 or 2-1, if that chip goes in. It’s just the little things. We give up a set piece goal, something we talked about, and it slides in past the post and that’s kind of been the name of the game for us the last few weeks. Now we get a couple of days off to regroup and we’ve just got to fight like hell next weekend.”
That the Sounders could even find themselves in this situation is somewhat remarkable. As recently as three weeks ago, they were the odds-on favorite to win the Supporters’ Shield and were coming off a seven-game unbeaten run.
They’ve responded by being outscored 13-2 in their last four matches, a span during which they've never held the lead.
Exacerbating the problem has been an inability to get all their key players on the field. Evans only trained with the team for a day after rejoining them in Dallas following US national team duty. Forwards Eddie Johnson and Obafemi Martins both stayed in Seattle to deal with injuries. Osvaldo Alonso missed the game on a red-card suspension. Dempsey, who managed to play 90 minutes, continues to deal with a shoulder sprain.
“Every team has its ups and downs,” said Dempsey, who is still looking for his first goal or assist since joining the Sounders. “You’ve just got to keep fighting and keep grinding. The stronger you are, the farther you’ll go. Hopefully we can turn things around, get the right result in the final game and make the playoffs. It takes one game to be back on track. It takes one game to make a big mistake and fall off. It doesn’t take much in this game for things to go up and down.”
Jeremiah Oshan covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com.