TUKWILA — Seattle’s three-goal loss to Los Angeles on Monday began with a fender bender and a sneeze.

All-Star defender Chad Marshall was in a rear-end car accident Saturday night but was still expected to start until the morning of the match.

“We thought he was feeling better, and then he sneezed … and his whole back spasmed on him,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said.

Marshall didn’t train with teammates Tuesday at Starfire Sports Complex and his status remains uncertain for Saturday’s match in San Jose. But his car accident has already kicked off quite the chain reaction of defensive woes.

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His absence against the Galaxy shifted Jalil Anibaba from the outside to the central defense with Dylan Remick making his return from injury on the left.

“It took some time,” Remick said. “I wasn’t my best out there anyway. … The first half wasn’t as good as hoped. The second half felt a little bit better, more confident.”

Probing for an early weakness, the Galaxy poured forward. Its attackers relentlessly chased the ball while Marcelo Sarvas and Juninho shut down passing lanes behind them.

“They pressed us and made us uncomfortable in the back,” Sounders right back DeAndre Yedlin said.

The Sounders (12-5-2, 38 points) resorted to rushed clearances over the top that temporarily — but only temporarily — relieved the pressure. Seattle connected on just 76 percent of its 178 passes in the first half, the Galaxy 85 percent of 238.

The few Sounders attacks that built slowly from the back were met with the same end.

“I didn’t feel comfortable in the midfield,” Seattle’s Gonzalo Pineda said. “I didn’t know how to get control of that area, because I had like two or three men always next to me. It was a bad game for me.”

With the Sounders pinned back, Los Angeles took its time to pick the seams that widened as the half progressed. On the goal that made it 3-0, Stefan Ishikazi had enough time on the edge of the box to cut inside, pick out an angle and curl a shot past a diving, by-now-exasperated Stefan Frei.

“We need to get tighter on people,” Schmid said. “We were too loose. When Robbie Keane dropped back into the midfield to look for the ball, there was nobody within 10 yards of him.”

The Sounders must fill those gaps before their recovery from the lopsided loss can begin in earnest, by their big center back or otherwise.

“Obviously his (Marshall’s) aerial threat and his defensive capabilities are big for us,” Remick said. “We just missed him as a person.

“But that’s no excuse for the way that we played yesterday.”

Matt Pentz: mpentz@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @mattpentz.