BY SPNW Staff 03:08PM 10/19/2013

Uninspired Sounders drop fourth in a row

The Sounders are choking away their season.

Faced Saturday with a mediocre FC Dallas team (11-11-11, 48 points) eliminated from the playoffs, Seattle played as if its postseason berth was already guaranteed, losing 2-0 at Toyota Stadium.

It came undone when Dallas defender Matt Hedges scored a header off a set piece in the 65th minute. The Sounders (15-12-6, 51 points), lethargic and uninspired for most of the afternoon, couldn’t mount enough consistent pressure to provide an equalizer.

In the 87th minute, freshly inserted Dallas defender Michel scored to seal Seattle’s fate. Equally embarrassing was a post-goal celebration in which Michel ripped off his jersey and laid it on the ground, then went down to all fours and began worshipping it.

The display, which earned him a yellow card, was almost as embarrassing as the way the Sounders played.

With a win, Seattle could have clinched a playoff spot and moved back (at least temporarily) into first place in the tightly contested Western Conference table. To make matters worse, a Colorado victory later Saturday against Vancouver would tie the Rapids and Sounders in fourth place with 51 points.

On the flip side, Seattle can clinch this weekend if the Rapids (13-10-9, 48 points) lose or San Jose (13-11-8, 47 points) loses or ties Sunday against the LA Galaxy.

It would be a backward walk into the playoffs.

Winless in their last six and owners of a franchise-worst four-game losing streak, the Sounders have a single game remaining — an Oct. 27 match at CenturyLink Field against the Galaxy, for which 64,000 tickets have been sold. Seattle hasn’t held a lead in 375 minutes.

Supposed star midfielder Clint Dempsey Saturday spent more time Saturday yelling at officials then attacking a suspect Dallas backline.

Dempsey — battling a sprained shoulder suffered against the Timbers — hasn’t scored a goal or netted an assist in eight MLS appearances. His best chance came late in the second half on a header from a free kick, but it turned too sharply, wide and left.

After a 0-0 draw at halftime, play opened up in the final 45, but for whatever reason, the Sounders simply failed to finish time after time. The Sounders had 15 shots (three on target) and controlled possession for 57 percent of the match, though it didn’t really matter.

In the 52nd minute, midfielder Brad Evans received a cross from DeAndre Yedlin in front of a mostly wide open net, but his attempt sailed high and wide.

Backup goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann, starting in place of Michael Gspurning, couldn’t do much to counter the free fall. Tasked with four shots on goal, he made two routine saves, but he wasn’t close to saving the two scores.

The Sounders were without injured forwards Eddie Johnson and Obafemi Martins while defender Osvaldo Alonso was out serving his suspension after receiving a red card Sunday in a 1-0 defeat against Portland.

The loss pushed Seattle to 5-10-2 away from CenturyLink Field, a mark that bodes especially poorly for a club that once held MLS Cup aspirations.


YourThoughts

  • Mark Flynn

    Sounders have THE most loyal and dedicated fans in MLS, yet this is getting very tough to tolerate. Absolute free fall, lack of chemistry, seeming lack of concern or sense of urgency from the players OR coach. Interesting that, since Dempsey came on board he has zero goals and assists, and the team has fallen apart. Not to blame him, but is this a coincidence?

    • art thiel

      He’s had a problem integrating, and he’s spending too much time doing what one coach called “Dempsey shit,” getting too fancy with possession and passes. But if he’s drawing double-teams, someone is unmarked.

      • jafabian

        I see a LOT of standing around lately though. No one is breaking towards him when that happens.

  • jafabian

    Dempsey is getting doubled up on and sometimes even tripled up and the officials do nothing to protect him. Other teams have noticed this and take advantage of that fact. Ljunberg had the same thing happen to him when he was with the team.

    Of course, Ozzy not playing doesn’t help at all, as well as Martins and Johnson. However they shouldn’t be in the position they’re in right now. Expecting wholesale changes in the offseason. Some players need to realize they’re playing for their jobs at this point.

    • Hammtime

      Yeah, at this point IF this team makes the playoffs I have little hope they’ll do anything but be bounced out in the first round.
      Has Sigi lost this team? They look like a bunch of individuals out there.

      • jafabian

        I don’t think he’s lost the team but some guys got to go. Some have been with the club too long and are comfortable with their role. I expect thing to be shaken up. I do think Sigi needs to start a campaign on how the overly physical play that Dempsey is receiving needs to stop. Doesn’t surprise me that opposing teams and officials might want to give him a “welcome to MLS” greeting but enough is enough. He’s been here before and knows all about it.

        • art thiel

          Dempsey and the Sounders knew his job would be tough when he took it.

          • jafabian

            Correct however I base my opinion on what other coaches have done in similar instances. Phil Jackson used to be notorious for being very public about defenses being too physical with Jordan and Bryant and to a degree it would work. But maybe Sigi just isn’t that way, I don’t know.

      • art thiel

        I don’t think he’s had a “team” in the figurative sense, all year. As far as the playoffs, it looks bad at the moment, but scoring in soccer is often so random that they could win once in the playoffs and fix everything.

    • art thiel

      I think all know jobs are at stake, but this team was assembled, and taken apart, on the fly. Alonso’s absence was a big deal.