The Seattle Sounders endured an overly familiar loss on Saturday, 2-0, to New York City FC.
Like other defeats this season, the Sounders had chances, but not goals. Like other defeats, there was a highly questionable, highly costly call against them.
What was different this time was the Sounders’ reaction — and especially that of original Sounder and captain Brad Evans, who called out some teammates as too accepting of another setback in what is now a 5-9-1 season.
“Certain guys are maybe OK with how it’s going,” Evans said. “Maybe they’ve been at teams before where losing was a tradition and you wait for the next season to get a fresh start. But that doesn’t happen here. We don’t have losing seasons. We don’t rest when we’re losing. We’re not OK with it. So it’s got to be an eye-opener. It’s not OK.”
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The loss was Seattle’s fifth in its past six league games — four of those coming by shutout.
Coach Sigi Schmid didn’t mention a lack of effort from his team, but he acknowledged another cumulative effect.
“I think it’s taking a toll on our confidence,” he said. “A lot of times you get down when you’re not getting a goal. … The only way you can change that is you can get a result or somebody needs to stand up. Something needs to go your way at some point. What that magical moment is — that magical word — I wish I knew.”
Schmid started the same lineup he had used the week before in a 2-0 loss at the New York Red Bulls. That lineup again had designated player/forward Nelson Valdez in reserve, while young forwards Aaron Kovar, Jordan Morris and Joevin Jones started. Kovar has one career goal, while Jones opened the season as a left back.
Morris, however, is the team leader with five goals, and he came close — often — to adding to the tally Saturday. In the second minute, Morris sent a shot over the crossbar. Twice more in the first half, he put shots just wide of the net. Early in the second half, he fired into the side netting.
“We felt we could get behind their high line, and we did,” Schmid said. “But once you get behind their high line you’ve got breakaways, and instead of going a foot and a half wide, it’s got to go 6 inches inside the post.”
Instead, New York (6-5-6) broke ahead in the 38th minute on yet another disputed goal in a season that has been jammed with them. This sequence started on a corner kick, which the Sounders initially dealt with but couldn’t fully clear. City sent the ball back into the box, where it seemed to bounce oddly, hit the raised arm of Frank Lampard and went into the goal.
Referee Alan Kelly huddled with his assistant before finally letting the goal stand. After the match he responded “No” — only “No” — to a pool reporter’s question of whether ball and hand connected.
“I thought he touched it with his hand,” said defender Tyrone Mears, who was close behind Lampard. “It was a difficult decision for the referee, but at the minute, those decisions aren’t going for us.”
After Ronald Matarrita added the final goal in the 87th minute, many in the announced crowd of 47,537 didn’t stick around for the final whistle.
“I probably would have left, too,” Evans said. “I’ve never in a game had to scream so many times for people to wake up — to the point of where I almost lost my voice. Disappointing. It should be a given that you have to work your (butt) off at home. Every bouncing ball, when you lose the ball you have to track back and win it, fight for every single header. The givens aren’t there, and that’s why we’re losing games. Extremely disappointing.”
Next, the Sounders shift back into the U.S. Open Cup at Real Salt Lake on Tuesday.
Their next MLS match is Saturday at FC Toronto.