Halfway through the season, the Seattle Sounders still struggle. The latest misadventure was a 1-1 draw that featured a last-second Orlando goal to cost Seattle a win at home.
The 42,333 packed into CenturyLink Field Wednesday night hoped the Seattle Sounders had rebuilt the traditionally ironclad walls of their home fortress. Despite being poised for a fifth consecutive home win after an early Will Bruin goal, Seattle conceded a tying goal in the game’s final seconds for a 1-1 draw with Orlando City SC.
In the third minute of stoppage time, Roman Torres committed a foul in the in the alley left of Seattle’s goal, drawing a yellow card and conceding a late free kick. Orlando’s Kaka, the league’s highest-paid player, sent a short ball to the near post, where it met the head of Scott Sutter and floated into the net, costing Seattle (5-7-5, 20 points) two points at home.
After the match, coach Brian Schmetzer was sullen.
“It feels like a loss,” Schmetzer said. “The guys put too much into the game to allow a couple of silly lapses in concentration get us to that point. We should have been able to close the game out earlier.
“As a team, when you’re getting down to that stage of the game, you need to get the ball into the corners, keep position in their half of the field. Make sure you keep everything in front of you if you’re defending. We couldn’t do that. On the play, the ball somehow gets behind us, then Roman makes the foul, that sets up the goal for them.”
The late concession was one issue. But the Sounders were equally thwarted, as has been the case often this season, by a lack of goal production. Seattle has one goal or fewer in 14 of its 17 matches, despite no shortage of opportunities Wednesday.
One particularly damning sequence saw Jordan Morris flash into the box from the right side in the 59th minute and roll a short pass to Clint Dempsey, forcing a save from Joe Bendik inside the six-yard box. The rebound fell to Osvaldo Alonso, but the midfielder was similarly unable to put his shot past Orlando’s defenders before Bendik fell on the ball.
The Sounders were the dominant team until the game’s final minutes. Seattle out-dueled Orlando City (7-5-5, 26 points) 52-41, and out-tackled the Lions 14-7.
Halfway through the season, it is clear that Seattle has areas to address.
Schmetzer believes the adjustments are small, but critical.
“I would say that they are smaller changes,” Schmetzer said. “Overall, aside from the last minute of the game, we did enough to win. Am I as a coach happy with the results after 17 games? No. I don’t think anyone in that locker room is happy.
“They understand what’s going on. We do the same thing after every game. We reflect, ‘what could I have done better?’ ‘How could (coaches) have given them the tools to succeed?’ We’ll continue to do that. I don’t think there are major things wrong with the squad.”
Help may come from the summer transfer window, which allows clubs to add players, when it opens July 10. Meantime, the Sounders will settle for tweaks.