The narrative should have been different: The Sounders couldn’t finish. They struggled without their stars. Their brief, brilliant run of form faded. They wilted in the Houston heat.
For nearly 94 minutes on Wednesday night it was just that. This just a day after Sounders' interim head coach Brian Schmetzer swore that playing a midweek away match, one against a last-place Dynamo team in between two games against their biggest rival, would not be a trap game.
But when Nicolas Lodeiro slotted home a pass from Joevin Jones in the 94th minute to steal a road point - remarkably the second time the Sounders have done that in Houston this year - and keep Seattle’s five-game unbeaten streak alive, all of a sudden a new story was being written: one of determination, of resilience, of pride.
“This team doesn’t believe, doesn’t think that they’re tired,” Schmetzer said after Seattle's 1-1 draw. “They’re mentally strong enough to understand that the mind is a powerful thing. That if your legs are heavy, your mind can still work and you can still be effective for the team. That’s what they believe in.
“They believe that if their legs are a little bit tired, that there’s someone behind them that’s gonna cover for them. That’s what those guys believe. You’re asking me if they’re going to be tired? Maybe. But they have such a strong mindset that they can persevere.”
Clint Dempsey and Chad Marshall stayed in Seattle. Roman Torres was active, but not in the Starting XI. Jordan Morris, Andreas Ivanschitz and Jones started on the bench. Yet, here are the Sounders, flying back to Seattle with more confidence than ever and the belief that they could throw anyone on the pitch and get a result.
“We have a deep squad,” midfielder Cristian Roldan said. “Guys are motivated to play. They’re urging to get in the starting lineup. That’s good for the starters, it creates some competition. Whoever is playing well gets to play. We get to use these games where Clint isn’t able to make it or Chad, and these guys are willing to contribute.”
This road draw earned Seattle a much-needed point, but it doesn’t alleviate the fact that Morris has been struggling to find the back of the net recently, despite having myriad chances to capitalize.
He missed another golden opportunity on Wednesday after receiving a brilliant through ball over Houston’s back four midway through the second half. He tried to lift it past Dynamo goalkeeper Joe Willis, but didn’t get the contact on it he wanted. When Andrew Wenger turned a defensive miscue into a goal on the other end in the 75th minute, Morris’ miss loomed a lot larger.
“Like I’ve been saying the last few weeks, I need to be better with my finishing,” Morris said. “I’ll be the first one to say it. It’s frustrating. I want to score to help the team win. … I just have to do better with that one.”
Said Schmetzer: “He had his chance. He’s gotta make that happen. He’s gotta have that mindset of ‘when I get my one chance, I’m gonna put it away.’ That’s just a learning curve he’s going through.
“Give him that chance another time, he’ll put it away. Give him three chances, he’ll put away two. Give him seven, he’ll put six of them away. We’ll keep building him up, building him up because the kid is obviously a big part of our team. We’ll need him.”
It’s “next man up” for the Sounders. It won’t always be pretty, but results are results. And as much as Seattle will need Morris down the stretch as it makes a playoff push, it should be just as reassuring that they might not.