After allowing nine goals in their last two matches, the Sounders will again try to qualify for the playoffs and win the Cascadia Cup when they meet Portland Sunday.
MATCH: Seattle Sounders FC (15-10-6, 51 points, 2nd, MLS West) at Portland Timbers (12-5-14, 50 points, 3rd, MLS West). TYPE: MLS. WHEN: Sunday, 6 p.m, Jeld-Wen Field. MEETING: 82nd all-time (Sounders lead 42-28-11 across all competitions; tied 3-1-3 in MLS play. TV: ESPN. RADIO: 97.3 KIRO FM; SPANISH: KOMO2 (Comcast Ch. 114) and La Gran D 99.3 FM.
A frustrated Sigi Schmid couln’t contain his ire Wednesday after the Sounders, with a playoff berth and the Cascadia Cup for the taking, gagged both away in a 4-1 loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps that had 38,883 scarf wavers at CenturyLink Field booing. Schmid might have been more forgiving if his club had delivered one terrible performance. But two in a row? And one at home?
The Sounders entered the match fresh off a 5-1 drubbing administered by the Colorado Rapids. That four-goal pummeling matched the worst in franchise history and the five goals allowed were the most ever ceded by Seattle in an MLS match.
The Sounders have yielded nine goals in consecutive matches while scoring twice. The nine matched the total conceded by Seattle in it previous 12.
“I don’t know, maybe it’s the pressure of the end of the season, the playoffs, the first time the club is in position to win the shield (Supporters’ Shield),” said defender Djimi Traore. “It’s not easy to deal with it. But now we need to show some character and as experienced players we need to step up and drive the team.”
The Sounders do not have much time to correct problems and get confidence back. They will try to qualify for the playoffs for the fourth consecutive match — and clinch the Cascadia Cup — at Portland Sunday night.
The numbers line up favorably for the Sounders, who are 3-1-3 all-time against the Timbers and unbeaten in their past four outings against them. Seattle outscored Portland 11-7 overall in MLS play and scored at least once in every match while twice holding Portland scoreless. But a good trend line won’t help the Sounders Saturday.
“I think we have to look at everything,” said Schmid, when asked what the club needs to do. “I think we have to look at goalkeeper (Michael Gspurning), I think we have to look at defenders, we have to look at midfield, and 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.
“It’s disappointing because we’re just not making plays. We’re not making saves, we’re not making defensive stops, we’re not winning tackles, people are slipping in behind us, we’re not running with people. Those are things that are just unacceptable. We have to look at it and we have to solve it.
“We just have to find our form again. The issue is not who we play, the issue is us finding our form.”
The Sounders will again be without forward Eddie Johnson and midfielder Brad Evans, who are serving international duty with the U.S. National Team in World Cup qualifiers.
“That doesn’t help. It just makes it a little bit harder, especially when we’re struggling right now,” said Schmid. “So you have that and Zach Scott out for two games on (yellow) cards, so you just have to juggle it. It is what it is. Every team has to go through the same thing.”
With Clint Dempsey playing in a reserve role for Seattle Wednesday for the first time since early September, the Sounders are nearing a return to full health. Dempsey will be available Sunday, although he is not listed in the probable starting lineup.
MLS Cup Playoffs
Ten clubs qualify for playoffs, including the top five in points from each conference at the end of the regular season. Seattle could clinch with a win against Portland Sunday.
SOUNDERS PROBABLE LINEUP: Goalkeeper — Michael Gspurning. Defenders – DeAndre Yedlin, Djimi Traore, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Marc Burch. Midfielders — Osvaldo Alonso, Mauro Rosales, David Estrada, Andy Rose. Forwards — Obafemi Martins, Lamar Neagle.
TIMBERS PROBABLE LINEUP: Goalkeeper — Donovan Ricketts. Defenders — Jack Jewsbury, Mamadou Danso, Pa Modou Kah, Michael Harrington. Midfielders — Diego Chara, Will Johnson, Diego Valeri, Kalif Alhassan, Darlington Nagbe. Forwards — Maximillano Urruti.
INJURIES: Seattle — Out, GK Josh Ford (right patella fracture). Questionable, MF Clint Dempsey (hamstring), GK Marcus Hahnemann (right knee), MF Shalrie Joseph (right knee sprain), D Leo Gonzalez (hip/groin). Timbers – Out, Mikael Silvestre, Ryan Miller. SUSPENSIONS: Seattle — Zach Scott. Timbers — None. INTERNATIONAL DUTY: Seattle — Eddie Johnson, Brad Evans; Timbers – Ryan Johnson, Alvas Powell (Jamaica), Rodney Wallace (Costa Rica).
SERIES: Dates to May 2, 1975, when Portland played its inaugural match in the old North American Soccer League. In all leagues, the Sounders and Timbers have met 81 times. Sounders are 42-28-11. Since Portland joined MLS, the teams are tied 3-1-3. The clubs met most recently Aug. 25 at CenturyLink Field with the Sounders scoring a 1-0 victory on Eddie Johnson’s goal in the 60th minute. The match attracted 67,385.
SOUNDERS STATS / NOTES
SOUNDERS MLS LEADERS
|Starts||Yedlin 27, Gspurning 27, Gonzalez 25|
|Goals||Johnson 9, Martins 8, Neagle 8|
|Assists||Rosales 8, Evans 5, Martins 4, Neagle 3|
|Shots||Neagle 56, Johnson 50, Martins 43|
|Shots On Goal||Johnson 27, Neagle 23, Martins 16|
|Fouls Caused||Alonso 51, Neagle 48, Gonzalez 33|
|Fouls Suffered||Rosales 42, Johnson 35, Alonso 35|
|Offsides||Johnson 37, Neagle 13, Evans 7|
|Corner Kicks||Rosales 95, Burch 23, Neagle 16|
|Cautions||Johnson 6, Traore 5, Hurtado 4, Gonzalez 4|
|Ejections||9 tied with 1 each|
COMING UP: Sounders play at FC Dallas Oct. 19 and at CenturyLink Field Oct. 27 against the LA Galaxy in the regular-season’s final match.
Seattle Sounders FC 2013 Schedule / Results
(15-10-6, 51 points, MLS; 1-1-0 CCL; 0-1-0 U.S. Open Cup)
|3/6||*at Tigres||7:00||Fox Soccer||L||1-0||0-0-0|
|3/23||^at San Jose||7:30||KING 5||L||1-0||0-2-1|
|5/26||^at LA Galaxy||8:00||ESPN2||L||4-0||4-4-3|
|7/13||^at San Jose||7:30||KING||L||1-0||7-7-3|
|9/21||^at LA Galaxy||7:30||NBCSN||D||1-1||15-8-5|
|10/19||^at FC Dallas||1:00||NBCSN||—||—||—|
*=CONCACAF; ^=Major League Soccer; #=U.S. Open Cup