By John Boyle Herald Writer
SEATTLE — Not too long ago, a case could be made that the Seattle Sounders were the best team in Major League Soccer after a fifth straight win.
Just two weeks later, however, Seattle coach Sigi Schmid was talking about his team needing to do some “soul searching.”
That’s how quickly things have turned for the Sounders, who lost 2-0 to the Columbus Crew on Wednesday night, marking the team’s second consecutive home loss and its third game without a victory since that five-game winning streak.
Schmid began his postgame comments with two simple words: “Not happy.”
He went on to detail the several individual miscues over the past three games that contributed to the team’s bad run, and ultimately said both he and his players need to figure out a way to quickly right the ship.
“We’ve got to get on the same page,” Schmid said. “… Right now we seem to be not on the same page sometimes, and that’s my job; I’ve got to make sure we get on the same page.
“Obviously going 0-2-1 in the last three games is something that we’re not happy about, but we’ve got to make this streak as short as possible and get out of it. … We need to soul search.”
The Sounders won’t have a ton of time for soul searching with a game at Chivas USA looming Saturday, but that’s preferable to a long layoff after a disappointing result, according to both Schmid and his players.
“We’re winless in three, but the good thing is we’ve got a quick turnaround,” forward Eddie Johnson said. “So we don’t have a long time to dwell on this loss.”
The loss was the Sounders first to Columbus — which happens to be Schmid’s former team — since Seattle joined Major League Soccer in 2009. It also was Seattle’s third loss at home already this season. And after giving up just four goals in its first 10 games, Seattle has now conceded four in its past two.
“We’ve got to be more disciplined. We’ve got to get back to doing what we did at the beginning of the year, which is we all chipped in and we all worked hard for each other defensively, then took our opportunities when we got them,” Schmid said. “It’s my job as the coach to make sure that we get on the same page and come out with that motivation.
Seattle dominated the game in nearly every statistical category — shots, shots on goal, possession, corner kicks — except the one that obviously mattered most. After Seattle controlled the ball for most of the early going, it was the Crew that took an early lead when Justin Meram silenced the CenturyLink Field crowd of 38,311 with a header off a cross from Dilly Duka in the 15th minute. Prior to that goal, the ball had barely been in Seattle’s half of the field, but it only took that one moment to turn the game.
“It doesn’t matter how much possession we have or how much we dominate or how much possession we have in their end of the field, it’s the final quality of what you do,” Schmid said.
The Sounders had a golden opportunity to tie the score just before halftime, but Alvaro Fernandez missed a header from close range off a cross from David Estrada.
“We’ve got to score the goal right before halftime,” Schmid said. “The opportunity that Fernandez had, that makes it 1-1, and that changes everything. Goals change games.”
The Sounders continued to control the ball in the second half, and had several chances to tie the score — none better than a Fredy Montero shot that was thwarted by a diving Matt Lampson in the 51st minute. But again it was the Crew scoring against the run of play.
After Seattle gave the ball away in its own half in the 76th minute, forward Emilio Renteria quickly fired a shot from 30 yards out, and Sounders goalkeeper Bryan Meredith, who was a bit too far off his line, was able to get a touch on the shot, but not enough to keep the ball from finding the back of the net.
“I’m very disappointed in myself for sure,” Meredith said. “I think they got three shots on goal, and two of them went in the back of the net, so that’s definitely not a good day for me, not a good day for the team. Right now we’re in a bit of a slump and we’ve just got to find a way out of it.”
Right back Adam Johansson left the game in the 61st minute with a right hamstring injury. He missed four games early in the season after injuring suffering a hamstring injury to his left leg in the season opener.
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.