Playing their fifth game in 15 days, the weary Sounders finally hit the wall in the second half of Saturday's 1-0 loss to Real Salt Lake.
The Sounders weren’t going use fatigue as an excuse, but it was a factor.
Playing five games in 15 days takes a toll, and the wall hit midway through Saturday’s game against Real Salt Lake at CenturyLink Field. The visitors scored six minutes into the second half and held off Seattle’s late advances to prevail, 1-0, in the showcase of Western Conference powers.
“In the first half, we were able to be a little dangerous,” said forward Eddie Johnson, “but as the second half went on, I thought we got a little tired.”
Worn out and weary, the Sounders got some much-needed rest Sunday. But the day off also gave time to rue a missed opportunity to jump into first place. Plus, there was plenty more at stake with a win.
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Seattle could have extended its winning streak to a franchise-best six games and joined the 1997 Los Angeles Galaxy and 2001 Miami Fusion as the only teams in MLS history to earn 15 points in 15 days.
Instead, the Sounders’ shutout streak ended at 321 minutes on RSL forward Fabian Espindola’s goal in the 51st minute and the team’s unbeaten streak ended at six games.
Coach Sigi Schmid felt fatigue was a factor in their comeback efforts “because our movement up front wasn’t as active as it was in the first half.”
Johnson admitted as much, saying he lacked the energy at times in the second half to attack crosses from his teammates. Forward Fredy Montero, who started four games in the 15-day stretch, also said tiredness became an issue.
“It’s a minor bump in the road for us,” said midfielder Andy Rose. “It’s been a tough five games, and to come out of it with a good amount of points and near the top of the table is good. It hurts a little bit not to be on top, but we’re definitely moving in the right direction. We’ll get over this one.”
Positive return for Fernandez
Midfielder Alvaro Fernandez saw his first action in a month Saturday after missing five games with a quad strain. The designated player came on as a second-half substitute and had a great influence in Seattle’s late push for a goal.
“I thought it was good,” Schmid said of Fernandez’s performance. “He got through it. He felt good, so I think he should be ready to play full-out next week.”
The game marked the first time since the season opener that all three of Seattle’s DPs — Fernandez, midfielder Mauro Rosales and forward Fredy Montero — were on the field at the same time.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t accomplish our objective, but at least I played some minutes,” Fernandez said through an interpreter.
• RSL coach Jason Kreis had high praise for the Sounders FC organization and fans after Saturday’s game; a season-high crowd of 39,312 was in attendance. “No question in my mind, the best place to play MLS games,” Kreis said. “It creates a tremendous atmosphere.”
• Goalkeeper Michael Gspurning will be evaluated on a “week-by-week” basis as he recovers from the hip injury, according to Schmid, who didn’t rule out a return Saturday at Vancouver. The coach indicated, however, that midfielder Brad Evans (calf) is likely to miss the game against the Whitecaps.
• The Sounders’ four goals allowed ranks first in MLS. Sporting Kansas City is next with seven.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or email@example.com
On Twitter: @joshuamayers