The Seattle Sounders reached the one-third mark of their Major League Soccer regular season with a result that is becoming sobering familiar.
For about 89 minutes and 55 seconds, the Sounders looked superior to the league-leading Colorado Rapids.
But in those other five seconds, the Rapids lifted a corner kick into the box, the Sounders defense lost its mark on Colorado’s Axel Sjoberg, and he headed in what proved to the winner in a 1-0 result at CenturyLink Field.
A few boos trickled down from the crowd of 41,028 as the Sounders fell to 4-6-1 with the final whistle.
“I told the guys in the locker room I think they gave everything they had,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “I thought for the majority of the game we carried the game. I thought we created chances. Goals change games. We didn’t finish some of the chances that we had.”
For league-leading Colorado (8-2-3), all of that was turned on its head, as coach Pablo Mastroeni saw a team that didn’t do much to impress except find a way to win – for the eighth time in 13 games.
“Winning is winning,” Mastroeni said. “There’s not a bad win. … It’s not a beauty contest, it’s about winning.”
From the start, the Sounders dominated possession, shots and dangerous chances. Andreas Ivanschitz almost put Seattle ahead in the first minute. Dempsey broke through one-on-one against Colorado keeper Zac MacMath, but was stopped. Ivanschitz volleyed just over the bar. Three good chances in the first 15 minutes. None connected.
Then, two minutes before the halftime whistle, Colorado’s first on-target shot put them on the scoreboard. The Rapids won a corner. Axel Sjoberg broke into the box, losing Ivanschitz along the way, and headed the cross in from near the penalty spot.
“We knew they were going to be dangerous on set pieces just because of their height advantage,” Schmid said. “We got caught on one. Outside of that, I think all of their other chances came when we pushed really forward and opened up.”
When the teams came out for the second half, the match returned to its previous form. The Sounders lacked neither effort nor chances. Dempsey on target but saved. Morris just wide with his left foot. Morris just over the bar. Dempsey header cleared off the line by former Sounder Marc Burch.
And so it went, chances followed by misses followed by their sixth loss of the season.
The Sounders remain stuck at 10 goals – second fewest in the league.
“It’s like 95 percent of our play is really good, and that last 5 percent is finishing,” Schmid said. “…But we need to get the ball into the back of the net. At the end of the day, that’s the only stat that counts. … I walk away as a coach feeling there’s going to be a game where it’s going to be 1-2-3-4 and they’re going to fall in the back of the net, but tonight was not the night.”
Next, the Sounders head out for three straight East Coast road matches, starting Saturday at New England.
COLORADO RAPIDS 1 SEATTLE SOUNDERS 0
Bottom line: The Sounders dominated shots, possession and good chances, yet came up empty again. They fall to 4-6-1 with a third of the season behind them. The Rapids add to the Supporters Shield lead at 8-2-3.
The goals: 43rd minute: Rapids win a corner. Former Sounder Marc Burch launches it, and Axel Sjoberg finds space in the box and heads it in.
Player of the match: Zach Scott stepped in for the injured Chad Marshall and had a solid match at centerback.
Key moment: The goal, which came strongly against the flow of the match.
Key stat: Clearly goals in the only statistic that matters, as the Sounders dominated most everything else.
Notes: Seattle played without Marshall and designated player Nelson Valdez, both out with injuries. … There was an announced crowd of 41,028 at CenturyLink Field. … The Sounders next three games are on the road, where they are 0-3-1.
Quote: “The effort of the guys I thought was great. I thought our play was good, as well. But we need to get the ball into the back of the net. At the end of the day, that’s the only stat that counts.” – Sounders coach Sigi Schmid
Next match: At New England, 4:30 p.m. Saturday, May 28, JOEtv.