BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – If any team could keep some perspective on a slow start in the long haul of an MLS year, you’d expect it to be the 2017 Seattle Sounders

Seattle are less than a year removed from a second-half season surge that saw the Sounders shoot from last place in the Western Conference in July to a last-day playoff berth and eventually, the club’s first MLS Cup title.

Still, even the man who helped oversee that run called it a “shock” to see where the Sounders sit after Saturday night’s 4-1 road loss to the Chicago Fire.

Seattle (2-4-4) have lost their last two matches and are winless in their last three. The defending champs sit in eighth place in the Western Conference with 10 points from 10 matches. Through 10 games last year, Seattle had picked up 13 points from four wins and a draw.

“It’s a bit of a shock to see us that far down the standings with only two wins, based on the way we’ve played some of our games,” said Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer. “This game, I won’t use that excuse; the Fire were better. They were better.”

Seattle controlled stretches of Saturday’s first half and responded almost immediately after falling behind on a controversial penalty kick, equalizing through a Clint Dempsey blast. Tied 1-1 at half, however, Chicago trounced Seattle in the second 45 minutes, giving up the three goals as well as out-possessing, out-passing, and out-shooting the visitors.

“It wasn’t good enough from me, from anyone on the field in the second half,” said former Fire midfielder and current Sounder Harry Shipp. “It’s disappointing. It’s the most disheartened I’ve felt in a while after a game for sure.”

Schmetzer said the message to his team after a loss like that is “no one quits, no one quits, no one quits, and they have to play like a team. Attackers have to play defense sometimes, defenders have to push up and help the attackers. We’re not playing as a team.”

Next, the reeling Sounders have to play again Wednesday at Sporting Kansas City (8:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE). The quick turnaround might normally seem like a burden for a depleted squad, but on Saturday night at least, the Sounders seemed eager for the chance to put Chicago behind them.

“The time is actually a good thing for us, because I’m sure they’ll want to get back out on the field and prove that their performances will get better,” Schmetzer said.

Shipp agreed, saying the midweek game “doesn’t give you a chance to dwell on this.” 

“For us there’s no escaping it, and we’re all here for a reason, and I think you’ve got to look at yourself and say, ‘What can I do to help the team?’ And it starts with me,” Shipp said. “But no, I think we’ve got a bunch of strong-willed guys that’ll come ready to fight on Wednesday. I believe that.”