The Seattle Sounders ended their 12-day road trip with back-to-back losses. And after their 3-1 defeat at FC Dallas on Wednesday, and with the playoffs coming on fast, coach Sigi Schmid had some advice for his team.
“We have to be a little bit tougher, a little meaner, maybe a little dirtier at times,” he said. “I don’t think we were tough enough at times. That’s something that we have to address with ourselves. We’re expecting the calls, and the referees are just really letting the game go now.”
The Sounders (17-9-3) were unable to get anything from the final game in hand they held over the Los Angeles Galaxy in the race for the Supporters Shield and the Western Conference championship. Now they face a race to the finish tied at 54 points each, with both teams having five games remaining — two against each other.
“Everything is still in our own hands,” Schmid said. “If we win our home games, we put ourselves in a very good situation. We’ve got three home games still left out of five, and the first one is Saturday (against Chivas USA) and we have to be ready to win that one.”
At Toyota Stadium, the Sounders continued a recent trend of falling behind early, this time in the eighth minute.
The play began with a throw-in that was knocked around the corner of the penalty area before Andres Escobar headed it to David Texeira, who spun past Sounders defender Chad Marshall and finished low and hard into the far-side netting.
Falling behind seemed to awaken the Seattle offense, which was regularly dangerous for the rest of the half, but couldn’t get anything on the scoreboard.
The Sounders broke through in the 58th minute, when Lamar Neagle, a graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School, connected from about 30 yards. Neagle had been sent into the game about a minute earlier.
“Amazing strike by Lamar once again,” captain Brad Evans said. “And I think that Clint (Dempsey) was able to pick up the ball at the midfield and create and push forward. We had a number of chances. Personally if I’m on top of the box I’ve got to pull the trigger instead of being too cute around the box. That’s something we’ll take into the next week.”
Instead, it was Dallas that broke the deadlock, with Texeira getting his second goal of the night, running free on the left side to sweep in a ball Escobar had sent across the goalmouth.
Blas Perez knocked in the insurance goal in the 88th minute.
Dallas improved to 14-10-6 in recording its seventh straight win at home.
The result combined with a 4-1 loss at New York on Saturday means the Sounders have surrendered seven goals over two games.
The Sounders defense also took a hit in the 33rd minute, when Zach Scott was involved in a leaping collision at midfield. He was helped off the pitch with an ankle injury and replaced by Djimi Traore.
“The (ankle) is locked up, so we don’t know if there’s something broken or it’s just jammed up,” Schmid said. “We don’t know. He got knocked when he was in the air and came off balance and jammed his ankle on the way down.”
The Sounders don’t have much time to get things right. The club will fly home Thursday and practice Friday before returning to league play Saturday afternoon.
“When you play five games in 16 days, you can’t really train,” Schmid said. “You can talk about a lot of things, but you can’t really train on things. … We’ll work on it; but also, it’s attitude. And our mentality has to be good, our attitude has to be right. Guys have to be here in the moment … they’ve got to be focused on what we need to do. I’m confident in the group. We have a good group, and we know that we can play better soccer than we did tonight.”