Losing on Sunday, 3-2 to Sporting Kansas City at CenturyLink Field, was the capper to not-so-good week for the Seattle Sounders.
The team saw center back Roman Torres get slapped with a 10-game suspension for testing positive for performance enhancing substances on Friday. Two other key Sounders, Victor Rodriguez and forward Raul Ruidiaz, continue to be sidelined by injuries as the team fell into second-place tie and further behind first-place LAFC.
The Sounders have lost back-to-back games at home for the first time since the 2016 season when they won the MLS Cup. The loss puts Seattle in a second place deadlock with Minnesota and San Jose with 38 points. Meanwhile LAFC is pulling away with 52 points.
Just seven points is the difference between second and eighth place in the MLS Western Conference. Coach Brian Schmetzer knows the Sounders can ill afford any slumps.
“Our conference is really super tight,” Schmetzer said. “It’s going to be dog fight all the way to the end. It’s six-point swings all the time. You cannot give away stuff at home.
“We know it’s hard to win on the road but we’ve won three and I know LAFC’s won four but we’ve got to win our road games but we must absolutely get results at home.”
Seattle will have another chance to grab an important home win Saturday against the New England Revolution. Although New England is in the Eastern Conference, it is another opportunity to grab three points with trips to Utah to face Real Salt Lake, Los Angeles to face the Galaxy and Portland to face the Timbers on the horizon.
The Sounders may have some reserves headed back to the roster as Gustav Svensson, Ruidiaz, Rodriguez, and Brad Smith all will be returning soon. Getting those players back for the upcoming three-game stretch just may be the tonic the Sounders need in the month of August.
“We have really important games coming up,” Sounders midfielder Danny Leyva said. “Everyone on the squad is important to the team and making sure we’re getting quality minutes and when we’re gonna be getting some of our injured players back. Our squad rotations are going to be important and if they’re back and healthy then I think we’re gonna have a good few weeks.”
It wasn’t all bleak on Sunday. The Sounders best Sporting KC, 65 to 35 percent in possession, and Jordan Morris scored twice in the second half and now has three goals in his last two games.
“I would gladly trade 35 percent possession and four goals rather than 65 percent possession and only two,” Schmetzer said. “Sometimes that’s how games manifest themselves that way. The team that’s up, especially on the road, will give up possession because they’re defending for a long time and that’s just the way games happen sometimes.”
New England enters on a hot streak, having picked up a positive result in eight of its last nine matches (winning six).
“We got to turn that around,” Morris said. “There’s a three-way tie for second? Our goal is to finish as high as possible with this new playoff format and that that’s with next weekend.”