After two straight defeats, Sounders looking to right the ship

No time for the Sounders to wonder what could have been as a huge match with the Portland Timbers is right around the corner.

Sounders FC has had stretches of the season this year in which it has struggled to find results.

The team is not infallible, but one thing that has been dependable is its ability to bounce back from adverse situations. Seattle did so when it went winless in its first five matches, rattling off an unbeaten streak of six games to counter the season’s slow start. There was also a stretch of three losses in four matches in June and July that triggered a run that saw the Sounders climb to the top of the Supporters’ Shield standings with an 8-1-3 record over 12 matches.

Now, with two consecutive lopsided defeats, Seattle is faced with the next great challenge and has only three matches to rectify the situation. And that is a task that they plan to solve through a unified front.

“We live and die together. We live and die as team, as a staff – everybody,” Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid said. “We’ve just got to find our form again. The issue is not who we play. The issue is us finding our form.”

In the Seattle locker room, there are plenty of players to lead that charge.

Captain Mauro Rosales is an Olympic champion who has been at the height of the game in his native Argentina. Clint Dempsey captains the U.S. National Team and is a presence with the team even after only two months in Seattle. Djimi Traore has won a UEFA Champions League title and his veteran savvy can influence the locker room, too.

That trio won’t be alone in driving Seattle back to form, though.

“The team has to step up,” Rosales said. “There is no other way.”

Wherever that spark comes from, though, it must come quick and the players know that.

There isn’t panic in the minds of the players, but there certainly is urgency.

“It’s not all going to be ups – there’s going to be some downs,” Dempsey said. “Hopefully it’s what we need to get right and make sure we have a good push in the next three games and make sure we get into playoffs and do well.”

Added Rosales, “We have to keep fighting. We’re still alive. We still have to make the points to qualify. We still have to make the points to be first in the conference. We can do it. The character of the team has to step up and be who we were the past games.”

Those past games saw Seattle win five straight in August and September, allowing just one goal in the process.

That streak started with a 1-0 victory over the Portland Timbers on August 25. Now, Seattle meets the Timbers again on Sunday at JELD-WEN Field with plenty on the line. A win will give Seattle the Cascadia Cup. It will also clinch a playoff spot and put Sounders FC back in the right mentality heading into the postseason.

“All we can do is look forward to Sunday. That’s probably one of our biggest games of the year. Not only in terms of points and where we finish in the standings, but in terms of pride for our city and for ourselves,” defender DeAndre Yedlin said. “It’s going to be a big one for us.”

Kickoff on Sunday is scheduled for 6pm PT with television coverage on ESPN.

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