"We didn't even come in for the fight," the goalkeeper said.
TUKWILA — The lopsided score wasn’t the biggest bother.
Neither were the missed scoring chances or the infuriatingly poor passing.
For Kasey Keller, the most disappointing part of Sounders FC’s 3-0 road loss Saturday to Real Salt Lake was a lack of effort and toughness. The substandard performance has put Seattle in need of a minor miracle — at least a three-goal win in Wednesday’s 7 p.m. home leg of the aggregate-goals Western Conference semifinal — to keep its season alive.
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“We didn’t even come in for the fight,” said the goalkeeper and captain.
Keller had declined to comment to reporters in the visitors’ locker room after Saturday’s defeat, but let his frustrations out after practice Monday.
“There were opportunities when guys needed to make a 30- to 40-yard run (on defense) to stop something from happening and it wasn’t there,” he said. “Why that happened in a playoff game, I have no idea. I fully understand you’re having a bad day passing the ball, you’re having a bad day and can’t just seem to make things click on the offensive side, but you can always run hard and tackle. In the playoffs you think that’d be first and foremost in your frame of mind in an away game — where ‘whatever happens, I’m going to run hard and tackle’ — and it wasn’t there.”
Keller then tried to find meaning in the letdown, but either couldn’t or cut himself short.
“That just means … I don’t know what that means,” he said. “That’s the part that’s the hardest to swallow. That’s got to be first and foremost. When another team steps it up a gear in the playoffs and you almost step it down, that’s hard to fathom.”
Coach Sigi Schmid was disappointed with the team’s toughness in a more literal sense. While claiming referee Mark Geiger let physical play go unpunished at times, he thought the Sounders could’ve been stronger.
“They crushed people on tackles,” Schmid said of RSL after the game. “We pushed people on tackles; we didn’t crush them.”
Signs of disappointment were clear as the Sounders practiced Monday for the first time since the defeat. Schmid said the group was noticeably quiet. Keller noticed some dejection.
But within the frustration there’s still a sense of belief.
“Yeah, we’re all extremely disappointed with the score-line and the mountain we have to climb,” Keller said. “But it’s definitely a climbable mountain, as opposed to something that’s just insurmountable.”
Rosales’ status still in doubt
Midfielder Mauro Rosales continues to improve from a sprained right knee, but he’s still limited in practice. Schmid said the availability of the team’s assist leader remains in question.
“He did more and worked with the ball a little individually (Monday), so we’ll see,” the coach said. “I still think it’s more of an outside shot, but at least it’s a shot.”
• A limited amount of tickets are available for Wednesday’s game at CenturyLink Field and can be purchased at SoundersFC.com or by calling 800-745-3000.
• Keller, the retiring goalkeeper, said he was aware that Wednesday could potentially be his final game.
“There’s no question,” he said. “Just training today I thought, ‘This could be my second-to-last training session.’ Of course that’s there and that’s part of it. I’m going to do everything I can on Wednesday to make sure that it wasn’t.”
• Sounders FC went without a shot on goal Saturday for the first time in 77 league and playoff games. The last such instance was Aug. 20, 2009, in a home game against New England.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org