Each week it seems the Sounders FC is faced with a new challenge. This week, head coach Sigi Schmid is learning how his players bounce back from a tough 1-0 loss to the Kansas City Wizards.
Seattle started off the season 3-0-0 without allowing a goal. But on Saturday, their goalkeeper and captain Kasey Keller was sent off with a red card in the 29th minute, leaving keeping duties in the hands of pool keeper Ben Dragavon with an undermanned lineup in front of him. A late Kansas City goal meant the Sounders faced their first loss of the season – a defeat made tougher to swallow by Seattle’s control of the ball through most of the second half without capitalizing on opportunities.
“We’re riding different situations. Winning kind of breeds itself. We had some opportunities to concede goals – maybe the other team didn’t make the right pass or the right finish. Then we got a little bit on the end of that last game where we had the chances and didn’t put them away, they had the chance and they scored,” Keller said. “Now it’s about how we react to that.”
So far, signs have been positive as the Sounders prepare to face league-leading Chivas USA. The tenor of training didn’t change, as the team was still positive despite a rain that threatened to drench training with each passing drop.
“If somebody would have said that after four games, you’re going to be three and one, we would have said, okay, we’ll take that,” Schmid said. “So we’re at a stage where we’ll take that.”
One encouraging factor is that it they were beaten 1-0. Because Seattle has so much offensive firepower, shutouts should be rare.
“It’s a matter of just making sure that we get back on the horse and score our goals and feel good about ourselves offensively,” Schmid said. “I’m not worried, and I think our attitude of our team is good.”
Keller said that the team’s makeup contributes to a positive training environment, even when a tough loss could pull a team apart, especially an expansion team.
“I feel very confident that we can (bounce back). We have a great attitude, we have a great group of guys. There’s no egos. There’s nobody looking for somebody else to do their job,” Keller said. “Everyone’s fighting to help each other out and with that attitude you’re always going to be in games.”
Another reason for optimism, which was first pointed out by Schmid within minutes of the loss to Kansas City, is that they will start the game against Chivas USA with 11 players on the field. That alone will mean a marked improvement over the team that was frantically trying to even the score late in the game against Kansas City.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 pm Saturday at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. The game will be broadcast on KING television.