CARSON, Calif. – After dominating Major League Soccer in the first month of its existence, Seattle Sounders FC must now concentrate on survival.
The Sounders find themselves closer to the bottom of the Western Conference than to the top after a 1-0 loss to Chivas USA on Saturday night in front of 13,117 at the Home Depot Center.
By extending its winless streak to six games, Seattle (4-3-5) fell 10 points behind first-place Chivas USA (8-2-3). Moreover, the Sounders dropped into a tie for third place with Colorado – and hold a two-point edge over Los Angeles.
Survival includes finding a way to replace two starters, Nate Jaqua and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, for the next game against San Jose at Qwest Field.
Both will be suspended. Hurtado accumulated too many caution points after receiving a yellow card in the 81st minute. Jaqua left the field in the 88th minute following his second yellow card of the game.
“Some of it’s bad luck; some of it’s stupidity,” goalkeeper Kasey Keller said of his teammates’ tendency to attract yellow and red cards. “We’ve got to clean it up and we’ve got to clean it up now.”
The Sounders implemented their fourth different defensive lineup in the back in as many games. Patrick Ianni made his second start of the season by replacing the suspended Tyrone Marshall in central defense.
In the midfield, Stephen King was in the starting lineup for the first time, as Osvaldo Alonso missed his second consecutive game with a strained right quadriceps.
Originally, Peter Vagenas was going to start for Alonso but he felt pain in his right ankle during pregame warmups.
But Chivas USA had to replace three starters.
Sacha Kljestan and Jonathan Bornstein were in Chicago for the United States’ World Cup qualifier against Honduras, while Jesse Marsch had to serve a suspension for a red card.
The Sounders took immediate advantage by dominating possession, attacking quickly and often in the first 20 minutes while preventing the hosts from generating serious attacks.
“We got them on the flanks, which is where I thought we could get at them,” Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said. “We had control of the game. I think we were dominant for 80 of the 90 minutes.”
Chivas USA did not manage a shot until the 38th minute. But the ensuing deflection resulted in a goal.
While going one-on-one against Hurtado, Maykel Galindo passed to Paulo Nagamura, who took a 7-yard shot that Keller deflected while sliding toward the left post.
But the ball fell to an unmarked Eduardo Lillingston, who tapped it into an open net from 5 yards.
The Sounders’ best chances to tie the score came in the 56th and 68th minutes. Freddie Ljungberg fired a 16-yard line drive in the 56th but goalkeeper Zach Thornton dove to his left to deflect the shot with his left hand.
In the 68th minute, Hurtado headed a deflection off Ljungberg’s corner kick over the crossbar from 2 yards.