SEATTLE — Every season has turning points. The Seattle Sounders can only hope Sunday's 1-1 tie with the New York Red Bulls doesn't turn out to be one.
With a chance to clinch a playoff berth and take control of the Supporters' Shield race, the Sounders failed to hold an early lead at home and instead have quite a bit of work to do over their upcoming stretch of three games in eight days.
"We definitely needed three points," Sounders left back Marc Burch said. "We're playing at home in front of our crowd and we're always expecting three points here. We lost two points tonight, but we still gained one, which isn't horrible."
Although the Sounders had come into this match riding a six-match home winning streak, all but two of those wins were by just one goal. Like many of those previous games, the Sounders had ample opportunity to put more into the net.
"I think over a long stretch of games we were not putting enough goals away to make sure teams are out of it," Burch said. "When you leave a team like New York in it, they are going to get one. For the amount of games that we won 1-0, maybe we did deserve a tie and maybe this was the one that we got back.”
The Sounders fired off 15 shots, but only forced Luis Robles into two saves. Even more jarring was the number of proming buildups which didn't even result in a shot. The most glaring of those was probably Eddie Johnson's chance in the 69th minute.
The speedy forward was one-on-one with his defender and had Obafemi Martins streaking toward the goal totally unmarked. But instead of slipping a pass to his strike partner, Johnson allowed the ball to be knocked away.
That came back to bite the Sounders about seven minutes later, when Tim Cahill buried one of the Red Bulls' few bona fide chances.
Johnson did set up Martins for a golden chance earlier in the match after chasing down a long pass from Lamar Neagle that drew Robles way off his line. But Martins' glancing header from about 10 yards out went just wide.
"Obviously, if you put that one in it changes the complexion of the game," Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said.
While a win would have put the Sounders in a much more advantageous situation, they are also well aware that they are the only team that still controls their own destiny.
“I think there’s no reason to panic,” Schmid said. “We still have some games in hand. I know we got some tough games coming up and next week’s going to be a tough week with Colorado and then Vancouver in the middle of the week, and then the end of the week Portland. That’s going to be a tough week for us when two of the three are away.
“We’ve been put in tough situations before and we’ve met them, so we just have to stand up and meet them again.”