After a quick start, a rough finish would ultimately be the Seattle Sounders’ undoing in their Lamar Hunt US Open Cup quarterfinal matchup with the LA Galaxy on Wednesday.
Midfielder Michael Farfan gave the Sounders the early lead after he finished a breakaway attempt in just the fourth minute. After conceding an equalizer to LA’s Alan Gordon, the Sounders would then grab the lead again on a 59th-minute tally from forward Herculez Gomez.
But Seattle would falter late, giving up another equalizer to Gio dos Santos and a brace to Sebastian Lletget in a 10-minute span, sending the Sounders to a 4-2 defeat that knocked them out of the tournament.
After the game, Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said he felt Seattle had a golden opportunity to come away with the victory after Gomez’s tally reclaimed the lead, but that the team was ultimately thwarted by the late lapses in defensive execution.
“I thought once we had the lead 2-1 it was just a matter getting through the rest of the game,” Schmid said. “We gave up a goal, a soft goal and then from there the floodgates opened. I think all of the last three goals were soft goals. But at the end for us, it wasn’t good enough. It’s a game we should have won when we were leading 2-1.”
Seattle’s starting XI didn’t include many of its regular faces on Wednesday, as Schmid chose to preserve most of his normal starters for Sunday’s return to MLS play against Sporting Kansas City.
Rookie Zach Mathers was brought in on a short-term agreement before the game and given the start in the midfield, along with veterans Farfan and Nathan Sturgis – neither of whom have started in league play this year. 20-year-old forward Oalex Anderson and rookie center back Tony Alfaro also started on Wednesday.
Despite the inexperience and potential rust, Schmid said he felt that the group he fielded showed that it was capable of pulling out a result.
“We put a team out there that was capable of winning the game and we were in a position to win the game,” Schmid said. “That’s where you want your team to be as you prepare. We found a way to lose it and we shouldn’t have.”
The loss denied the Sounders a spot in the tournament’s semifinals and ensured that the franchise’s quest for a fifth USOC trophy would be put on hold. Seattle won’t have much time to dwell on the defeat, however, as the team will head straight to Kansas City from LA for Sunday’s MLS match.
“Kansas City’s a tough place today so guys have to ready to battle,” Sturgis said. “We’re good enough to get results it’s just a matter of going out there and doing it. Hopefully we can start a run this weekend.”