McClatchy News Services
FRISCO, Texas — The Seattle Sounders failed to win for the sixth straight game Saturday, this time falling 2-0 at FC Dallas.
And while the result cost them another chance to clinch a spot in the MLS playoffs, those postseason hopes survive.
“Every team has its ups and downs,” forward Clint Dempsey said. “You’ve just got to keep fighting and keep grinding. The stronger you are, the farther you’ll go. Hopefully, we can turn things around, get the right result in the final game and make the playoffs. It takes one game to be back on track. It takes one game to make a big mistake and fall off. It doesn’t take much in this game for things to go up and down.”
The latest loss at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, handed the Sounders their first four-game losing streak in club history, and also the first in Sigi Schmid’s 14 seasons as an MLS coach.
Other negative milestones tagged along: Seattle (15-12-6) finished 5-10-2 on the road. The Sounders also haven’t won anywhere since Sept. 13, haven’t lead since Sept. 29, and they haven’t scored since Oct. 9.
Despite all that, Seattle remains in a three-way tie for third place in the Western Conference along with Los Angeles and Colorado, and can clinch a spot today if San Jose loses or ties at Los Angeles.
On Saturday, Seattle got off to an encouraging start as Brad Evans and DeAndre Yedlin both put shots on goal in the early minutes, Dempsey make a run into the box and Lamar Neagle sent an attempt just over the crossbar.
Seattle also started the second half with chances as Evans put a volley over the bar and Neagle sent a bicycle kick wide, both from inside the area.
Those squandered chances — and more yet to come — came back to haunt them as Dallas (11-11-11) converted a couple of its chances.
The first came in the 65th minute, following a free kick conceded by Leo Gonzalez. Michel sent his kick a few yards in front of the Seattle goal where Matt Hedges headed it past goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann.
Seattle had a chance to respond almost immediately, as Dempsey slipped a pass to Evans, who rolled his shot just wide. A few minutes later, David Estrada put a header on goal, but it was cleared away by Hedges. A couple of minutes after that, Dempsey snuck a free kick through the Dallas wall, but it went just wide of the post.
The Hoops ended the suspense in the 87th minute, when Michel tapped in the rebound after a deflected shot by David Ferreira.
The Sounders once again played without key personnel, as goals leader Eddie Johnson and designated player Obafemi Martins were out with injuries, MLS Best XI midfielder Osvaldo Alonso was out due to red-card suspension, and former No. 1 goalkeeper Michael Gspurning was benched for the second consecutive game by coach’s decision.
“It rests on my shoulders that we haven’t been able to come up with combinations that work for us,” Schmid said. “We’ve had some chances but haven’t been able to convert those chances. Guys are trying. They’re fighting and battling. The combinations on the field just haven’t been able to produce the goals that we wanted and needed at this point. The guys are obviously disappointed. Sometimes maybe the pass is off a little bit, at the wrong time, the wrong place. Right now we seem to be pressing a little bit, and that’s my responsibility.”
The Sounders will conclude their regular season at 6 p.m. next Sunday, when the Los Angeles Galaxy visit CenturyLink Field. Regardless of other results, Seattle can punch its own ticket to the playoffs by winning that one.
“Maybe next week is the perfect storm,” Evans said. “Maybe it happens next Sunday, and we get everybody healthy, get the result we need and we take off in the playoffs.”