FRISCO, Texas – The Seattle Sounders went into Saturday’s match against FC Dallas knowing they could clinch a playoff berth by winning.
After losing 2-0 before 15,017 at Toyota Stadium, the Sounders may have to win their final regular-season match Oct. 27 against Los Angeles to avoid missing the postseason.
“The reality is next week could be our last game, so we’ve got to approach it like a championship game,” said midfielder Brad Evans.
Seattle and Dallas have been free falling toward the season’s end. Seattle has a team-record four consecutive losses and is 0-4-2 since Sept. 13. Dallas (11-11-11) had won just 2 of 19 matches since May 25.
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“Obviously, we’re disappointed. It rests on my shoulders. We haven’t been able to come up with a combination that works. We haven’t been able to produce results the way we’ve wanted to,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said.
Seattle (15-12-6) has 51 points, tied for third in the Western Conference with Los Angeles and Colorado. San Jose (47 points) plays at Los Angeles on Sunday, and if the Earthquakes lose or tie, the Sounders would secure a playoff berth. Seattle would hold a tiebreaker over Colorado and San Jose if they finish with the same number of points.
Said forward Clint Dempsey, sitting with an ice pack on his left shoulder: “We’ve got to keep fighting. Every team has its ups and downs. It takes one game to be back on track.”
Dempsey was one of the walking wounded in a match the Sounders played without injured starters Obafemi Martins and Eddie Johnson, and with midfielder Osvaldo Alonso out after receiving a red card last week against Portland.
“Clint battled and played,” Schmid said. “Is he 100 percent with that shoulder? No. Then he got tripped up in the box and fell on it. That’s one of those things that you feel the pain.”
In the scoreless first half, the Sounders had the better scoring opportunities.
They had two shots on FC Dallas goalkeeper Chris Seitz in the opening minutes, including one by DeAndre Yedlin that appeared to hit Seitz in the head. Dempsey had a good chance in the 42nd minute, but his header landed on top of the net.
In the second half, it was all Dallas. Seitz wasn’t called on to make even one save. Two of the home team’s three shots got past Seattle keeper Marcus Hahnemann.
Michel, who didn’t enter the game until the 58th minute, assisted on Matt Hedges’ header goal seven minutes later and scored the clincher himself in the 87th minute.
Hahnemann explained: “The first was a free kick they ended up scoring in front. Michel has a great free kick. On the other one, a guy cuts inside and gets a shot, so I think it’s going in and move toward it. Then it bounces right to (Michel), and I’ve taken myself out of the play. If I didn’t move at all I would have had it.”
“We’re frustrated,” Dempsey said. “You don’t want to lose a game you needed to win. Still, if we can get the right result we can get in the playoffs.”
That result could come next weekend against the Galaxy, and it could come with the Sounders’ 33rd different starting lineup in 34 matches.
“It all comes down to trying to find the right mix,” Schmid said.
Or as Evans said, “If we have everybody healthy at the right time – maybe it happens next week, and that would be the perfect storm.”
• Hahnemann was making his fourth MLS start in goal for the Sounders.
Martins (groin injury) did not make the trip. Andy Rose was listed as a probable starter, but in his place in the starting lineup was Evans.
• Seattle came into Saturday with a 5-0-1 record in the past six matches between the teams, including 4-2 and 3-0 wins at home this season
• Said Dempsey, a native of Nacogdoches, Texas: “It’s good to be playing back in Texas. Growing up, I was playing in Texas but I was also playing in Houston. I get to see my family every time I come here.”