The Seattle Sounders returned from their road trip Sunday with 5,000 miles behind them but only one standings point for their efforts.
The Sounders had chances to win both games, but they arrived home instead with a 2-2-2 record one-fifth of the way through a season so far punctuated by points that slipped away.
And while they may have blamed a controversial call for their trip-opening draw in Dallas, there was no disputing the reasons for their 2-0 loss at Toronto FC on Sunday.
Twin blunders of the kind normally associated with the playground world of soccer moms and orange slices resulted in the only goals the Reds would need to send a rain-drenched crowd of 18,394 happily home from BMO Field.
“We just gave up two bad goals,” said Sounders midfielder Steve Zakuani, who came on in the 60th minute. “We had enough chances to score maybe three or four, maybe five. And then we just made too many mistakes, and they punished us. I don’t think they were two goals better than us. We just made two mistakes, and they scored.”
For the Sounders’ second game in four days, coach Sigi Schmid concocted a creative lineup that lacked leading scorers Fredy Montero and Zakuani, moved Brad Evans up to forward, and gave first starts of the season to Patrick Ianni, Sanna Nyassi, Nate Sturgis and Tyson Wahl.
Still, the unusual lineup started with precision, connecting passes and building possession into chances, but finishes remained elusive as ever.
And that meant there was no way to recover from the two glaring errors that Toronto (2-3) converted into goals.
“I think this was the best we played all year,” Sounders designated player Freddie Ljungberg said. “We played amazing, especially the first half. Like we said in here, we all played very, very well. Sometimes unfortunately you make mistakes and we did two personal mistakes. It happens to everybody but it killed the game for us and that’s how they won the game. When you give up mistakes like that you get punished.”
The first punishment came in the 58th minute on a sequence that began on what seemed to be a break for the Sounders.
Toronto striker Chad Barrett’s cross into the penalty area whacked into referee Jorge Gonzalez and bounced to the feet of Seattle defender Osvaldo Alonso. However, Alonso lost the ball between his feet, where Toronto’s Dwayne De Rosario reclaimed it at the top of the area, made a quick outside move to lose defender Ianni and then fired past goalkeeper Kasey Keller for the game’s first score.
The second punishment came on a similar mistake at midfield, where Tyrone Marshall mishit a ball, losing it to De Rosario who countered through open space before crossing to O’Brian White, who sent it to the back of the net.
“I wasn’t really happy the way we started the second half,” said Toronto coach Preki, the former Tacoma Stars standout. “... Dwayne makes a good play on a goal, and after we get a second on a good breakaway, and at times in the second half we played some good football.”
Toronto’s insurance goal seemed a handy thing as Seattle’s previous three results had been settled by goals in stoppage time – most recently on a controversial penalty kick that led to a 2-2 draw at Dallas in the game that opened this trip on Thursday. But this time the result survived to the final whistle.
“I thought we played well in the first half,” Schmid said. “I thought we had more of the game. I thought we created some good chances. ... I was not displeased with the guys who played. I thought we were doing all right and were pretty comfortable. And then we made a mistake at the back and that was a shot of adrenaline for Toronto, and we made another mistake, and then after that Toronto dominated the game for the last 20 minutes.”
The Sounders flew home after the game and will take today off. They will begin preparations Tuesday for the Columbus Crew, who will visit Qwest Field at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
Additional information and postgame discussion is available at blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer