The Seattle Sounders’ club-record 13-match unbeaten streak came to an end in Sandy, Utah, on Saturday with a 2-0 loss to Real Salt Lake, the fifth consecutive match in which the Sounders have scored one or fewer goals.
Head Coach Brian Schmetzer commented on his team’s focus on scoring goals last week heading into Rio Tinto Stadium and readdressed them following the match.
“I think the team needs just that one little spark to get them back on track,” Schmetzer said. “We’re just searching for that one guy to come and break us out of this slump.”
The Sounders scored at least three goals in four of five matches from July 4 to Aug. 5, but for one reason or another have struggled to find the back of the net consistently since. They are looking to shift the tide during one of their biggest matches of the season on Wednesday when they welcome rival and Western Conference-leading Vancouver Whitecaps FC to CenturyLink Field (7:30 p.m. PT; JOEtv, ROOT Sports outside Seattle, KIRO Radio 97.3 FM, El Rey 1360 AM | TICKETS).
Vancouver has won four of its last five matches, including a 3-0-1 mark at home, but it ends its season with four of five matches on the road, starting in Seattle on Wednesday. This is the first meeting between the two teams at CenturyLink Field this year after Vancouver defeated Seattle 2-1 in April and drew 1-1 in August, both at BC Place.
Only four points separate the fourth-place Sounders from the Whitecaps in what has been an extremely tight conference race all season.
“Every team in the West, especially the top eight, they’re all playoff games,” said Schmetzer. “I think they’ve been playoff games for the last three or four games.”
Schmetzer said he and the team “don’t care” about their 13-match unbeaten streak, but rather are focused on winning games and making the playoffs on a good run of form. They’re hoping a new streak begins on Wednesday.
“We’re going to be fired up for it,” goalkeeper Stefan Frei said of Wednesday’s match. “Sometimes I think it’s good to have to throw this game [against RSL] away quickly…We have to make sure that our bodies are right and mentally we’re ready for Vancouver because right now they’re firing on all cylinders.”
A resounding positive for Seattle is that last weekend was the first time the defense had allowed more than one goal since July, and the Sounders still have just one home loss since Schmetzer took over 14 months ago. With the defense as good as it’s been and the added boost of playing in front of what will be a raucous home crowd, Schmetzer is hoping his offense gets back on track.
“We just have to make sure that one guy scores,” he said, “and then the rest will come.”