SEATTLE — The Seattle Sounders knew it was going to end eventually.
They just didn’t think it would be like this.
Wednesday night began with the Sounders riding their record-setting nine-game winning streak and taking on a Philadelphia Union team contending with a long road trip and fixture congestion.
It ended with the streak coming to an unceremonious and crashing halt, as Philadelphia’s Fafa Picault pounced on an errant feed from Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei and tucked home a dramatic game-winner in the 93rd minute, sending the Sounders to a shocking 1-0 defeat.
“We all knew it was going to end at some point,” Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer said afterward. “We all knew. The fashion it ended in is what makes it sting.”
It made for an unfamiliar feeling in Seattle’s postgame locker room — one they hadn’t had since their last loss all the way back on June 30, a stretch during which Frei and the Sounders defense had avoided exactly these kinds of errors.
The Sounders were quick to defend their veteran ‘keeper and 2016 MLS Cup MVP, after an evening when the Sounders missed chances on the other end.
"This wasn't his fault by any means,” midfielder Cristian Roldan said. “For me, I put this game on players like myself who can't finish opportunities. We put Stef in that situation. We're not chasing that game if we put two goals away in the first 20 minutes.”
Injuries also didn’t help Seattle’s cause.
Striker Raul Ruidiaz, who had five goals in his first nine games with Seattle since his arrival in the Secondary Transfer Window, was forced from the contest just after the half-hour mark with a sprained right ankle. Center back Chad Marshall left at halftime after inadvertent head-to-head contact with Philadelphia’s Cory Burke, and right back Kelvin Leerdam moved gingerly at the end of the contest.
Schmetzer said Marshall’s exit was “precautionary” and that he and Ruidiaz will have to be evaluated at training ahead of Sunday's match against the LA Galaxy at StubHub Center (7 pm ET | FS1 — Full TV & streaming info).
“It’s too early for me to give any definitive information on that but at training I’ll certainly update,” Schmetzer said. “Certainly it was challenging after Raul left and the way the game was unfolding and Philly decided, ‘Ok, we can make a go at them'.”
Despite the deflating end, Schmetzer said his team should still be proud of a run of form that put his team in the record books and leaves the Sounders in possession of a postseason spot ahead of the the weekend.
“We’re very proud of what this team has accomplished,” Schmetzer said. “We put ourselves in a massive hole and we’ve climbed out of it. There’s still work to do but winning nine games in a row is an accomplishment that’s a big one.
“It’s a massive, massive record. I doubt it will be challenged in the near future.”