The Seattle Sounders lost a game they have no excuses losing. They were rested. They were at home. They had a fit roster and were playing a lesser opponent. Seattle had everything to play for, but came up short. Friday night’s loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps felt disgusting.
This Sounders team had so far exceeded all expectations. They were playing like a soccer fanboy’s wet dream. To start the season, Seattle looked pretty normal. Some funs wins, some stupid losses. The debacle at the death against Columbus at home, when we left Justin Meram unmarked for the winner was evidence the Sounders were mortal, or worse, mediocre. The very next week, down in Portland, the Sounders were just plain ugly. Then after falling behind 4-2 with over half an hour to play, something clicked. This team turned it up way past eleven and started killing Portland. Then they did it again and again and again. At Dallas and Salt Lake at D.C. and Dallas again. Sure there were hiccups (New England and New L.A.), but when it counted, they delivered. Throughout all those USOC games, all those Portland games, the Sounders persevered… until this past Friday. With precious few games left and the Cascadia Cup on the line, the Sounders failed. Absolutely and utterly, for the first time this season.
We had every reason to be pissed and disappointed in our team. Amongst the Sounders faithful, much wailing and gnashing of teeth followed Friday’s loss. But then come Sunday, L.A. lost at Dallas. Just like that, all is good in the Soundersphere. But it isn’t, nothing is all good. We just got super lucky that L.A. stumbled. That doesn’t change the fact that this team isn’t the team we thought they were. The Sounders have been off for some time now, but we waved it away with excuses of injuries, travel, fixture congestion. There are no more excuses.
L.A.’s loss at Dallas is no cause for concern for the Galaxy. Sure L.A. expects better of themselves but, playing away at a quality playoff contender, a loss was the mathematically expected outcome. Seattle’s loss, however, is a major red flag. The Sounders were at home playing a good-but-not-great team. We were expected, both in the hearts and calculators of MLS prognosticators, to win big.
I’ve said it before: a scheme exists to beat Seattle. If an opponent has talent they can execute it and this isn’t a secret anymore. Our opponents know it, and we know they know. But we still couldn’t break Vancouver down. We tried lots of crosses from the wings, ’cause width is the supposed antidote to Sounders-Repellant, but to no avail. Sigi better figure this out, and fast. The Sounders need to think differently or these last two games are going to be very, very painful.
I wanted this time to be an all-time great. That ship has sailed. We need to lower our expectations and hope, at least, for a true contender. I’m nervous. My faith is shaken, but I want to believe in this team.