The difference between victory and defeat can sometimes be razor thin.
After a pair of distant results, Sounders FC saw just how narrow that difference can be on Sunday night at JELD-WEN Field in a 1-0 loss to the Portland Timbers, hitting the crossbar twice and having another opportunity deterred by a remarkable save. While stopping short of calling it a moral victory, Seattle did show signs of improvement over prior losses to the Colorado Rapids and Vancouver Whitecaps FC and the club can build on that progress into the final two matches of the regular season.
“It’s a game we have to build off of. We showed character and determination and even with 10 men, we still created a chance to tie the game,” Head Coach Sigi Schmid said. “That’s something we have to build upon.”
In the disappointment of a three-match losing streak, Seattle’s longest since 2010, much can get lost. The general feeling in the locker room after the match, though, was that the effort shown on the field on Sunday will result in wins more often than not.
“This is not an easy place to come play,” goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann said. “Obviously we’re disappointed with the result, but the fight we showed until the last minute and the great team spirit – I think we can build on that, for sure.”
It’s not the first time this year that the team has pointed to a string of bad luck as the lone difference between winning and losing, either. During a five-match winless streak to start the season, Seattle was only outshot twice, suffering three one-goal losses along the way before those tides turned and bounces started going the other direction.
When that change came, there was a stark difference in the play for Seattle and confidence grew as wins stacked up.
“At the start of the year, we kind of had the same issues where the ball wasn’t going in and then we had a really good run in the summer. We’re kind of back there, but tonight you can’t really question the effort,” midfielder Steve Zakuani said. “We have to just play through it and when one goes in or two go in, the rest will come in. It just hasn’t gone our way today.”
The fix, according to Hahnemann, is simple, but not one achieved simply.
“The only way you can change your luck is through hard work,” he said. “If you work your butt off in training every day, you become lucky. Not because you’re lucky, but because of the hard work you put in.”
Added Zakuani, “I don’t think it’s anything to panic over. It’s just a bad week and we have to concentrate on things to come. The only way out of this is to play together.”
Sounders FC will finish the regular season with matches against FC Dallas on Saturday and at home against the LA Galaxy on October 27.