SEATTLE — Seattle Sounders FC got healthier Wednesday, but that didn’t make much difference as they suffered a 4-1 pounding at the hands of the Vancouver Whitecaps.
The result came on the heels of a 5-1 loss Saturday at Colorado. It stretched Seattle’s winless streak to four games and also ended a club-record 14-game unbeaten run at home.
The final whistle brought rare boos from the crowd of 38,833 at CenturyLink Field.
“(We’re) just upset about the result,” Sounders captain Mauro Rosales said. “It can’t happen again – two in a row – not in that way. It’s unacceptable.”
Vancouver was led by forward Kekuta Manneh, who scored the game’s first three goals for the first hat trick in the Whitecaps’ MLS history.
Afterward, Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said all options for improvement would be considered, including a change at goalkeeper, where Michael Gspurning has started every game when healthy.
“We have to look at everything,” Schmid said. “I think we have to look at goalkeeper, we have to look at defenders, we have to look at midfield, we have to look at attackers; because the performance of the team hasn’t been good enough. There’s nobody that’s a given right now.”
Vancouver’s first goal came in the 12th minute, when Manneh ran through the Seattle defense and slipped a shot just wide of the charging Gspurning. Manneh got behind the Sounders’ back line again in the 42nd minute, this time beating Gspurning to the near post. His third goal came in the 54th minute, this time after finding space in the middle of the penalty area.
Rosales got one back for Seattle in the 67th minute, cleaning up after a rebounded ball in front of the Whitecaps’ goal.
However, Vancouver’s Nigel Reo-Coker ended the scoring with his first goal of the season, despite tight pressure from Osvaldo Alonso and Gspurning getting a hand on the ball.
“I feel like the rest of the team: horrible,” Gspurning said. “I am sorry for my teammates about the last goal, because this was clearly my fault. It wasn’t fun the last two games. There were, I think, 10-12 one-on-one situations where the striker can decide where he wants the ball. OK, if you are lucky you make some saves; but if you’re not, this happens.”
The pounding played out despite the return of three key Sounders. Forward Obafemi Martins was back in the starting lineup after missing the Colorado loss with a hip injury. Designated player Clint Dempsey returned in the 51st minute after missing three games with a hamstring injury. And Steve Zakuani came on in the 79th minute: his first appearance since a sports hernia took him out of action in April.
“Of course, the result comes first,” Zakuani said. “We’re disappointed as you can see. ... The last two games obviously haven’t been up to our standard. We have to regroup and get ourselves ready for Sunday (at Portland). Sunday becomes now a really, really big game. That’s the most important thing right now.”
With a different Wednesday result, Seattle could have moved to the top of the MLS standings, clinched a playoff spot and been presented the Cascadia Cup.
Instead, the Sounders accomplished none of those things while dropping to 15-10-6 on the season. Vancouver rose to 12-11-9 and kept its playoff hopes alive.
The Whitecaps also surged ahead in the Cascadia Cup race at 2-1-3. Seattle (2-2-1) must win Sunday at Portland (0-1-4 in the six-game round robin) to take the Cup.
“You have to keep fighting,” Rosales said. “We have to stay alive in everything that we have to accomplish. We still have to make the points to qualify. We have to be first in the conference. We can do it. The team has to step up; the character of the team has to step up and just be the guys that we were in past games.”