Coming off a 5-1 thrashing by the LA Galaxy, the lowly Philadelphia Union (5-10-3, 18 points) dominated a depleted Sounders’ lineup Wednesday night at PPL Park. The 1-0 decision was Seattle’s second consecutive blanking with its star players missing in action. Seattle fell to 9-6-2 (29 points) after failing to generate any kind of offense, and still has yet to win a match in Philadelphia (0-2-2).
Losers at CenturyLink Field the past weekend to the San Jose Earthquakes (2-0), Seattle remains stuck on 29 points, tied for first in the Western Conference with the Vancouver Whitecaps. The Sounders also had an opportunity to tie D.C. United (31 points) for first place in the Supporters’ Shield race, but managed only two shots on target against a team that had been leaking goals.
“I thought the guys fought and battled, but we were just a little bit short,” said head coach Sigi Schmid. “We started some young guys who were essentially rookies, and at the end of the day we didn’t have enough firepower up front. It wasn’t meant to be.”
The back-to-back losses to San Jose and Philadelphia by a combined 3-0 mark the first time this season the Sounders have dropped consecutive matches.
“I’m not at all concerned about back-to-back losses,” said Schmid. “I’m just concerned about getting players back.”
The Sounders played without their three designated players, Clint Dempsey (suspension), Obafemi Martins (groin) and Ozzie Alonso (hamstring), and also did not have available defender Brad Evans, Tyrone Mears or Leo Gonzalez. Instead, Oniel Fisher, Jimmy Ockford and Aaron Kovar received their first career starts, and did not have the experience necessary.
The match turned on four plays.
In the 19th minute, Seattle’s Dylan Remick was nailed for a high kick in the penalty area when he nearly took off Andrew Wegner’s head. That set up a penalty kick by Maurice Edu, but Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei stunningly blocked Edu’s shot, preserving a 0-0 tie.
In the 27th, Philadelphia had a goal waved off when Wegner fouled Frei on a long throw in.
In the 71st, Philadelphia’s C.J. Sapong knocked a header past Frei, who had no chance to make a save, for a 1-0 lead. That was Sapong’s fifth goal in six games.
Then, in the 90th minute, Seattle’s Darwin Jones, breaking free on the right side, had a chance to equalize with a wide-open shot, but his ball found the side netting.
Overall, Philadelphia dominated the run of play and prevented the Sounders from exerting any sort of offensive pressure. The Sounders got their final shot on target in the 83rd minute (Marco Pappa) and didn’t have a corner kick until the 87th.
The Sounders play at 4 p.m. Sunday at Portland, which defeated Seattle 1-0 April 26 at CenturyLink Field, and also defeated Seattle in a U.S. Open Cup match at Starfire Sports Complex last week.