Sounders FC

Sounders worn down by red cards and ties

Through 11 games, Seattle Sounders FC has come away with five draws and four red cards – and seems to be tiring of each.

The fifth draw was endured Saturday, a 1-1 result against the Columbus Crew at Qwest Field.

The fourth red card came in stoppage time after the 90th minute when defender Tyrone Marshall was judged to have thrown a punch. And in an unhappy Sounders locker room after the game, he didn’t deny it.

“(A Columbus player) ran into me with his elbow, and being the competitor that I am, I’m not going to take that,” Marshall said. “I mean punch thrown or not, I think it was one of those games that was really scrappy and things were going on. So, if they want to call a red card and give me a red card and not the other guy, I don’t think that’s fair.”

Marshall joins Kasey Keller, Fredy Montero and James Riley as Sounders who have drawn red cards this season. His punishment will make him ineligible for the Sounders’ visit to league-leading Chivas USA on Saturday.

But long before the red card, Seattle coach Sigi Schmid thought his team had become distracted by the refereeing. And he took extra time in the locker room after the game to let his players know he wasn’t happy.

“I think just it’s a situation where we have to be focused as a team on the job at hand and on the next play,” he said. “It’s not a major thing right now; but it’s a small thing that I want to nip in the bud.”

The result was Seattle’s fifth straight regular-season draw. And while each yields one point in the standings, the Sounders do not consider all draws to be equal. This one – coming at home against an injury-depleted .500 team – seemed to register as more frustrating than others.

“I think two or three of them we were happy with; I think a couple of them we’re not,” veteran keeper Keller said. “When you’re playing a man down for 40 minutes and you tie the game in Chicago, OK, that’s not bad. We knew we should have beat Dallas. We knew we should have won (Saturday). We knew we should have beat L.A. So, yeah, that’s frustrating. It’s better than losing, but at the same time, we can do better.”

The stream of single points allowed Seattle (4-2-5, 17 points) to be passed in the Western Conference standings Saturday by the Houston Dynamo (5-2-3, 18). The Colorado Rapids (4-2-4, 16) are just one point behind.

Eight teams make the MLS playoffs: the top two finishers in each conference and the teams with next four best records regardless of conference. With the season’s midpoint approaching, Seattle has little margin for slippage. The expansion Sounders have the league’s fourth-most points, behind Chivas, Houston and Eastern-leader Chicago. Another, four teams – Kansas City, D.C. United, Toronto FC and Colorado – are just one point behind Seattle.

FC Dallas 3, at Fire 0

Jeff Cunningham and Kenny Cooper scored goals and FC Dallas handed Chicago its first loss of the season. The result ended a franchise-record unbeaten streak at 11 for the Eastern Conference-leading Fire (5-1-6).

Dallas (2-6-3) entered the match with the fewest points in the league.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Don Ruiz, 253-597-8808