By Don Ruiz The News Tribune
VANCOUVER, B.C. — None of the Seattle Sounders who were at BC Place on Saturday night blamed their 1-0 loss to Vancouver on the players who were missing.
However, the MLS-leading Sounders did go into the sold out stadium without at least five regular starters.
Forward Obafemi Martins did not travel due to a hamstring injury. Forward Clint Dempsey and right back DeAndre Yedlin were still away after their World Cup duty with the U.S. national team. And midfielders Osvaldo Alonso and Gonzalo Pineda were out due to yellow-card accumulation. Reserve goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann also did not travel due to a hamstring injury.
“Obviously, the guys that we’re missing are game-changers, and that’s why they’re (designated players), and that’s why they’ve played in World Cups and some of the biggest games, and obviously you’re going to miss that quality,” midfielder Brad Evans said. “But that’s no excuse to not play your game and not play the game the way it should be played.”
Several players admitted they came out flat, as the Whitecaps dominated the early minutes with their speed. However, Vancouver broke into the lead with power as Sebastien Fernandez launched a shot from about 28 yards, and goalkeeper Stefan Frei hardly had time to turn his head and watch it go into the top right corner.
“I thought (Vancouver) played with a lot of passion … and we didn’t really match that completely until the second half,” Schmid said. “But then they end of scoring a great goal – the guy hits a great shot. We had some opportunities, they had some. Stefan made some saves. We were around, but we didn’t put shots accurately enough on goal. This is a bump in the road, that’s all that it is.”
Several players indicated Schmid wasn’t in such a philosophical mood at halftime, when he apparently vented his frustration with the way his team was playing. In a halftime television interview, Schmid even when public with his disappointment in the play of midfielder Lamar Neagle and forward Kenny Cooper.
Those turned out to be the first two players Schmid pulled in the second half. Neagle went off in the 55th minute and was replaced by Tristan Bowen, in his Sounders debut. As the game moved along, the coach became more satisfied with his team’s performance.
“We had enough quality out on the field to get a result,” Schmid said. “I thought Evans played really well and really hard. (Micheal) Azira took a little bit of time to get into the game, but afterward he was much better. … I thought Marco Pappa was very good tonight, very active. Chad Barrett – it’s been a long time since he played 90 minutes – I thought he gave a good account of himself over 90 minutes. So there were a lot of guys who had decent performances.”
In the end, it didn’t add up to enough to snatch the win from Vancouver (6-3-7). However, Frei kept the Sounders within striking distance to the end with five saves.
Seattle (11-4-2) remains atop MLS. However, the Whitecaps extended their lead in the Cascadia Cup competition, moving to 2-0-1, while Seattle fell to 0-1-2 and Portland remained at 0-1-1.
The Sounders return to action at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, meeting the Portland Timbers in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup at Starfire Sports Stadium in Tukwila.
Club representatives indicated that the injuries to Martins is minor, although Schmid would not speculate on when he might return. However, Schmid did say during the week that Yedlin and Dempsey would be available by July 13, when the Sounders return to MLS and Cascadia Cup against the Timbers at fully opened CenturyLink Field.