“Professional sports seasons are roller coasters,” Seattle Sounders forward Chad Barrett tweeted Sunday night. “You’re going to have highs and lows.”
Barrett’s tweet went on to promise that the Sounders will rise again — but they’re in a fast, deep dip for now.
The 4-1 loss to the Portland Timbers on Sunday at Providence Park was Seattle’s third consecutive defeat, one shy of the club record endured in 2013. It also was Seattle’s harshest beating by the Timbers since the series shifted to MLS, and matched Portland’s all-time margin: a 3-0 win in 1977 in the original North American Soccer League.
“Portland was the better team; it was a deserved victory,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said. “I don’t know if the score line was exactly deserved. They were all over us in the first 30 minutes. We got ourselves in the game with the free-kick goal. I thought the first 15 minutes of the second half we played well — I thought that was our best phase. But then we just made silly errors at the end and just weren’t alert enough.”
The Sounders were even with their archrivals, 1-1, after 73 minutes. But then the Timbers struck for a second goal, and a third, and a fourth. And that seemed the particular source of what Schmid called extreme disappointment.
“When we take the goal we sort of put our heads down as well, and that’s the thing I’m really upset with my team,” he said. “In this particular case, we didn’t have the character and we allowed ourselves to get deflated at 2-1. Three-one shouldn’t have happened.”
Portland took its first lead in the 12th minute on a Darlington Nagbe bullet from 25 yards.
Seattle pulled even in the 38th minute when Lamar Neagle ran onto a cross from Tyrone Mears and finished from close range.
That was prelude to the segment that Schmid thought was the Sounders’ best.
But that came to a quick halt in the 74th minute when Seattle lost the ball on the Portland side of the halfway line, and the Timbers beat them back to the other end with Nagbe finally finding Fanendo Adi in the penalty area, where he scored.
A couple of minutes later the same combination played out: Sounders turnover, Timbers counter, Adi finish — this time from farther out.
That formula repeated once more in stoppage time, this time with Rodney Wallace finishing.
“It’s tough to kind of transition after two quick consecutive goals, especially when we felt like we were in it at the beginning of the second half,” said Neagle, the Federal Way native. “Obviously, we’re going to fight to the end no matter what, but it’s unfortunate we lost a couple in transition that were in very dangerous positions.”
Seattle once again played without its three designated players: forward Clint Dempsey due to disciplinary suspension, and forward Obafemi Martins and midfielder Osvaldo Alonso due to injury.
The club hoped to restock some firepower with Barrett, who returned to the starting lineup alongside Neagle; and rookie forward Andy Craven, who was signed from the S2 USL team Saturday and made his MLS debut in the 60th minute Sunday.
“It helped us to have Barrett back, but it still wasn’t enough,” Schmid said. “You can tell he’s not game-fit or game-sharp — he hasn’t played in a while. Craven, he’s going to give you some effort … but it’s asking a lot of him to step up and make a difference.
“Right now, our offense is not enough.”
The result dropped Seattle to 9-7-2, three points behind Western Conference leader Vancouver and six behind MLS leader D.C. United, which visits Seattle on Friday.
The Sounders remain one point ahead of Portland (8-6-4) in MLS play, and two points ahead in the Cascadia Cup competition, which now stands at Seattle 2-1-0, Vancouver 1-1-1 and Portland 1-2-1.