COLUMBUS, Ohio – As they get ready for the streaky Houston Dynamo for their second match in five days on Sunday (10 pm ET | MLS LIVE), the Seattle Sounders return to the Pacific Northwest searchingd for answers in their depleted attack.
The Sounders traveled to Columbus on Wednesday missing Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris, who are with the US national team for an upcoming international friendly and pair of World Cup qualifiers. Without two-thirds of their main attacking trio, the Seattle offense seemed lost against Crew SC, generating precious few chances in a 3-0 loss at MAPFRE Stadium.
The absence of Dempsey and Morris left Nicolas Lodeiro as the only regular in the team’s front four. The playmaker started behind Homegrown rookie Seyi Adekoya with normal left back Joevin Jones on one wing and Alvaro Fernandez on the other.
Seattle fell into an early 2-0 hole in the 21st minute, something that head coach Brian Schmetzer said lead to a bit of a crisis of confidence in his young squad.
“The idea is to get your team to believe they can play,” he said. “I thought some of the heads went down after da couple of mistakes. And for guys that haven’t been playing a lot or for guys who are getting their chance, sometimes confidence is a big deal. So we’re trying to boost their confidence and get them through the game.”
But Schmetzer and his players weren’t blaming the result on squad rotation.
Midfielder Cristian Roldan said there was no excuse for the performance, and characterized it as a learning experience.
“I think that what we can learn is that this can’t happen again,” he said. “Whether we are home or away, being down 3-0, it just can’t happen. Now it’s a matter of focusing onto Houston who is also very dangerous in the attack and we’ve got to keep them at zero.”
For Schmetzer, the replacements for Dempsey and Morris will have to be ready to go on Sunday.
“Our mentality is always next man up,” he said. “Guys have to embrace that. They’ve got to believe they can come in and make a difference. It was tough going out there, but no excuses.”
In order to bounce back against Houston, who demolished Real Salt Lake 5-1 on Wednesday, the Sounders will need to find a way to free up Lodeiro, who had an uncharacteristically quiet night at Crew SC.
“It’s tough when you’ve got a rookie playing up there and the formation challenges we have certainly affect Nico’s game,” he said. “I still think he created a bunch of chances and served good set pieces, so we’ll work on it for Houston.”
Schmetzer did confirm that Jones, one of the team’s most consistent performers, will be around for the match Sunday before leaving for international duty with Trinidad & Tobago. That’s not the only saving grace for Seattle. While Houston have been excellent at home this year, they’re 0-5-1 on the road.
And the Seattle boss said the quick turnaround will “absolutely” be helpful after a tough loss.
“We’ll watch the film and do our due diligence and get ready for Houston,” he said.