Seattle Sounders FC’s darkest run came in October 2013 when the club lost four consecutive Major League Soccer matches.
The current Sounders have lost three in a row and want to avoid matching that club-record losing streak by earning a result against Major League Soccer points leader D.C. United on Friday.
Veteran central defender Zach Scott was there for the 2013 tumble, and he is likely to be in the starting 11 against D.C. at CenturyLink Field.
“I feel like we always go through a point every season where maybe we’re not our sharpest, or injuries have caught up with us,” he said. “Glass half full: It’s definitely a good time to be going through it now than in October or November, where we’ve had a lot of key guys out during playoff runs and stuff like that”
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That previous record losing streak came in a stunning late-season freefall that saw the Sounders go from the top of the standings to winning just one of their final 10 games, including early elimination from the playoffs. The club not only lost, but lost ugly, amid reports of locker room unhappiness, an Eddie Johnson suspension, and ownership concerns that almost cost coach Sigi Schmid his job.
Scott reports a very different mood this time around.
“I think we’re all optimistic that we can get through this,” he said. “We’ve got not only a good group of guys who can step in, but also a good locker room. I think that’s the biggest thing. It’s very easy to be at each other’s throats when you’re not clicking on all cylinders. We’re going to be OK.”
The Sounders believe they eventually will be even better than that, because sometime before the month ends they expect the return of all three designated players. Defensive midfielder and four-time club MVP Osvaldo Alonso could return from a hamstring injury as early as Friday. Clint Dempsey will return after the U.S. national team concludes CONCACAF Gold Cup play. Obafemi Martins has begun the running part of his rehab from a leg injury expected to keep him out a few more weeks.
However, coach Sigi Schmid said the Sounders won’t wait for the DPs to ride over the hill to save them.
“Our approach is one that we’re good enough as a group now to get some results and get things accomplished,” he said. “We don’t want to look over our shoulder and say, ‘OK, here comes the cavalry, here’s the savior.’ ... I think we’ll be better against D.C.; but I think we’ll be a lot better by the time we play Chicago (July 11) because we will have had (more) days where we can train.”
The Sounders started a return to health Sunday in Portland when Chad Barrett returned from a hamstring strain. That provided a forward option in addition to Lamar Neagle, who had started as the lone man up top with Barrett, Dempsey and Martins out.
Barrett admits he made a rusty return against the Timbers. But he believes he — and the team as a whole — is poised to improve on that performance, where they were tied heading into the final 20 minutes before absorbing three late goals.
“It’s time to stop this skid and get back on track,” he said. “This is going to be a month of guys having to step up, and it starts with D.C. It’s kind of like turning the back nine on a rough course: Forget about that front nine and start all over.”