The Seattle Sounders fell at home for the second straight week on Saturday in a 1-0 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes. The defeat was a rare one for a club that had previously gone unbeaten in 17 straight matches at Lumen Field dating back to last September.
After starting the season on a 13-match undefeated run, the longest to open a campaign in MLS history, the Sounders have now lost three of four and are aiming to reset as the matches continue to come quickly in a condensed season.
“Teams come here, and they want to beat us,” said forward Will Bruin, who returned to action on Saturday after missing the last five matches with a knee injury. “That’s their MLS Cup. That’s the second week [in a row] I’ve heard teams chanting [in their locker room], and honestly it’s kind of pissing me off.
“We need to get back to the basics of being hard to play against,” he continued. “We had the stingiest defense. Nobody could score on us. We need to get back to being hard to play against, hard-nosed and hit the refresh button…We need to fix it, and this group is probably one of the best groups to do that.”
The Sounders are still first in MLS defensively this season, having only conceded 13 times in 17 games. However, four of those have come at home in the last two matches, and all of them have been issues that Head Coach Brian Schmetzer is eager to correct.
“I hate giving away goals,” said Schmetzer. “This league is so hard, so you can’t just hand your opponent a goal…In the last two games, we have been uncharacteristically giving away what I feel are soft goals.”
Every team in MLS has been hit hard by injuries, but the Sounders have been especially hurt by the long-term absences of captain Nicolás Lodeiro (knee surgery), winger Jordan Morris (torn ACL) and goalkeeper Stefan Frei (sprained knee, blood clots). Throw in the loss of Cristian and Alex Roldan and Xavier Arreaga to international duty, plus a rotating cast on the back line, and it’s remarkable that Seattle has fared as well as it has.
The mental fortitude of Schmetzer’s group has been on full display all season, and they are trying to put their recent results into perspective.
“We’ve lost, what, three games?” posed midfielder Kelyn Rowe. “It’s not like we’re going through a bad run there. Yes, it’s been two in a row now, but we want to make sure that this isn’t becoming a streak. That’s on us, and we’ll get back to work on Monday.”
The Sounders will host FC Dallas on Wednesday (7 p.m. PT; JOEtv, Prime Video, 950 KJR AM, El Rey 1360 AM | TICKETS) in the third of their three-match homestand. Seattle knows three points are vital ahead of an upcoming three-match road swing, which includes trips to rival Portland, this Dallas team and then a 2020 MLS Cup rematch in Columbus against Crew SC.
“It’s going back to the basics,” Schmetzer said, echoing Bruin’s sentiments. “It’s being a team that’s hard to beat. We’ve struggled with that the last two games.
“We will come back, we will try and get a result against Dallas and get back on a winning streak.”