Upset, perturbed, irritated and just plain mad.
All of those words could describe Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer following the Seattle Sounders fourth loss in a row, this one a 2-1 defeat to he Portland Timbers in the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup at Cheney Stadium on Wednesday.
It’s the first time the club has lost four straight since 2015. That year they dropped five in a row.
“I’m disappointed,” Schmetzer said. “We have to make sure — I as a coach and staff — give the players the tools necessary to win games. No one in this franchise likes to lose four in a row. No one.”
The last victory came 28 days ago when the Sounders downed Orlando City, 2-1, at CenturyLink Field. Although they did get a tie at Philadelphia on May 18 that feels like a long time ago considering the recent 0-4-1 slide that has taken some of the luster off the team’s strong 5-1-3 start.
Since the draw in Philadelphia, Seattle lost to Sporting Kansas City 3-2 on May 26 in a match that Kansas City dominated despite the one goal margin. Six days later, against FC Dallas, the Sounders took a 2-1 defeat on the road in Texas. In the team’s final league match before the international break, Seattle gave up two goals in the final 16 minutes to lose 2-1 to the Montreal Impact.
You can now add the Portland Timbers victory thanks to the two goals scored by Timbers newcomer Brian Fernandez.
“I’m not gonna talk about him (Fernandez),” Schmetzer said. “Scored a couple of goals, he’s a good player. Next question.”
A constant theme for the Sounders during this losing streak has been player absences and injuries. The Sounders had 10 players out due to international duty in various tournaments and international friendlies.
Forwards Nico Lodeiro (Uruguay), Raúl Ruidíaz (Peru), and center back Xavier Arreaga (Ecuador) are all playing in 2019 Copa America from June 14 to July 7. Forward Jordan Morris and midfielder Cristian Roldan (United States), midfielder Jordy Delem (Martinique), left back Joevin Jones (Trinidad and Tobago) and center back Roman Torres (Panama) will be participating in the 2019 Gold Cup from June 15 to July 7. Defender Gustav Svensson is with the Swedish national team playing international friendlies and forward Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez is participating in the U.S. U-23 training camp. Midfielder Kim Kee-Hee is still out with left knee injury.
Center back Brad Smith, who played in a friendly for Australia against South Korea on June 7 entered Wednesday night’s game and played 12 minutes.
The Sounders don’t have their full complement of players but they still had enough first team experience with Harry Shipp, Will Bruin, Nouhou Tolo and Victor Rodriguez taking the field against a Portland side that featured a majority of their first team.
Even with that disadvantage, Seattle had more shots on goal (24-13) and shots on target (8-6). But Portland led in the most important stat, adding to Seattle’s frustration.
“It’s always the scoreline,” Schmetzer said. “Your opponent scores two, you score one then you lose. What I said to the guys after the game is yes, you played good soccer, entertaining soccer but we need to make sure you don’t give up goals. Happened in Sporting KC, in Dallas and I guess Montreal’s a little different. We can’t gift teams goals.”
In the 78th minute, the Sounders had a golden opportunity to force a tie. Victor Rodriguez, who was returning from injured hamstring, was awarded a penalty kick after a Portland handball. Rodriguez fired his shot off the crossbar and out into play.
“It’s a different kind of frustration,” Sounders forward Harry Shipp said. “At Dallas or at Kansas City we didn’t play very well and you’re frustrated because of that because you aren’t playing as well as you can with the 11 you’re playing with on the field.
“I think this is different and it’s a bit irritating because when things are going well, that penalty goes in and the game’s tied. But when things aren’t going well you find yourself in a position where things like that happening and shots go wide. You just hope in a game or two that the ball is bouncing your way.
“Right now we’re just at a point in the season where those things aren’t happening.”