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.