If their Wednesday night collapse wasn’t bad enough, the Seattle Sounders followed that with an early wake-up call Thursday and a cross-country flight to rainy New Jersey.
Before departing, players said they hoped to use that travel time to get their minds right after losing a two-goal lead in the second half on their way to a 3-3 draw at home against D.C. United.
“We have (the long) flight to get it out of our system,” defender Tyrone Marshall said Wednesday from the dejected locker room. “This is over. They got their point, and we have to move on. It’s tough, but we can’t dwell on it. We just have to start focusing on New York.”
That could be as difficult for Marshall as anyone on the roster because it was the veteran defender who gave United its tying goal in the 87th minute, when he accidentally headed the ball into his own net.
“In the run of play things happen, and it just happened where (United forward Santino Quaranta) missed the ball,” Marshall said. “He could have headed it – Quaranta could have headed it – and it could have gone in. But he missed it, and it hit my head and went in. … It didn’t hit him. I told him that. He was like, ‘Oh it did,’ but it didn’t hit him at all. …
“It’s one of those things that you wish you had the play back, but it happened and let’s move on.”
The frustration of the Sounders’ loss of two points in the standings bubbled over in their locker room. Captain Kasey Keller reacted in the sharpest tone used by any player so far in Seattle’s expansion season.
“It’s the little things that you have to keep doing every time – every time,” Keller said. “You don’t get to take a vacation halfway through a play: ‘I’m a little tired, I’m not going to run this time.’ Every time, you do your job. Unfortunately, we’re switching off at times, and it’s killing us right now. … Hopefully, people will learn from it. And if they don’t, then hopefully they’ll be gone and we’ll find somebody else who will do a disciplined job.”
Coach Sigi Schmid’s more immediate personnel issue simply involves finding enough fresh legs to get his team through their Saturday date with the Red Bulls, which will mark their third league game in eight days.
On Wednesday, Schmid brought stars Fredy Montero and Freddie Ljungberg off the pitch in the 66th and 77th minutes respectively. Steve Zakuani, Patrick Ianni and Stephen King – who had all started the previous victory over San Jose – were used as reserves against United.
Despite the disappointing result, the busy week and the cross-country trip, Seattle (5-3-6, 21 points) will be facing an opponent with even more troubles.
The Sounders’ opened the MLS season March 19 with a 3-0 win over the Red Bulls at Qwest Field. Since then, the troubles have mounted for New York (2-10-3, 9 points), which is tied for last place in the league.
Schmid hopes one of the lessons his team took from Wednesday is to take nothing for granted.
“New York, in New York, is going to be difficult,” he said. “Their backs are against the wall. They’re a desperate team. They’re playing for their jobs right now. They’re playing for their coach. They’re playing for more things than just trying to get a result. So that’s obviously going to come into play. We’ll have to judge where we are fitness-wise, physically, and that’ll determine our game plan.”
After Saturday, the Sounders will get some time to recover. The team won’t return to training until Wednesday and won’t return to league play until June 28 when Colorado visits Qwest Field. That will be followed by a July 1 visit to Portland for a third-round game in the U.S. Open Cup.
Don Ruiz, 253-597-8808