For the third consecutive game, the Seattle Sounders headed into the final 10 minutes even at 0-0; and for the third consecutive game, they lost.
The latest disappointment came in the 88th minute Saturday when Montreal defender Laurent Ciman headed in a free kick that gave the Impact a 1-0 home win at Stade Saputo.
“It’s a punch in the gut certainly,” Seattle goalkeeper Troy Perkins said. “But it’s also a wake-up call that, look, these are the games that we have to see out. … You say, ‘You know what: It’s going to be zero-zero.’”
The loss was Seattle’s sixth in its past seven games, and it eerily echoed the previous two: 1-0 at Chicago on July 11, with the goal coming in second-half stoppage time, and 1-0 to Colorado on July 18, with the winner coming in the 84th minute.
The Sounders have scored only two goals over those past seven games, and haven’t scored in 272 minutes. Over the 90 minutes Saturday, they were outshot 14-3. Montreal (7-8-3) put six shots on goal, the Sounders (10-10-2) none.
“You can’t go 270 minutes without scoring a goal,” Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said. “That’s just not good enough. We’re not even forcing saves from goalkeepers. … We should at least get out of here with a tie. We have three games now in the last three weeks where we should have gotten at least three ties.”
There were chances. In the sixth minute, Seattle’s Chad Barrett put a header wide from 8 yards. In the second half, Lamar Neagle sent a header wide from 6 yards away, and another time received a ball in a dangerous position, but couldn’t fire a shot before Ciman swept it away.
“The players have to play better,” Schmid said. “We had some people facing some people up, but when you’re facing people up you’ve got to make plays. Lamar has a marvelous opportunity where he’s got a bouncing ball and he’s breaking in, and that’s got to be a shot on goal. But he has a bad first touch, and now he has to try to beat the defense — and he’s a good defender, so he doesn’t beat the defender. But if you have a good first touch, maybe you score a goal.”
The shot that went in was set up by a foul called on Seattle midfielder Osvaldo Alonso. That set up a free kick that Marco Donadel launched in front of the far post, where Ciman slipped it past Perkins.
“Our job is to keep to keep it to zero and keep them out, and we did a good job overall except for that one slip,” Perkins said. “… It would have been great to get a point or three points just for a little bit of a mood swing.”
The Sounders fell to three points rom the red line separating the six playoff teams from the rest of the pack.
They were again playing without five usual starters: forwards Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins, midfielders Brad Evans and Marco Pappa and goalkeeper Stefan Frei.
“Some guys probably need to go to the bench,” Schmid said. “But we don’t have any alternatives right now, so there’s not much we can do.”
There should be more options this coming Saturday against Vancouver, when Dempsey and Evans are expected back, and Martins (leg) and Frei (shoulder) could be available.
“Every team goes through struggles during the season, and every team either digs themselves out or finds themselves missing out of the playoffs,” veteran defender Zach Scott said. “So, yes, we’re hopeful with the guys who are coming in that they’re going to help dig us out of this. But we also have to be realistic that it’s more than two, three or four guys missing. It has to be team-wide playing better.”