The Sounders, who have a 12-game unbeaten streak, will navigate much of the remaining schedule without striker Jordan Morris because of a strained hamstring. Are they deep enough to overcome an injury to a key player for a second consecutive year?
We’re at 88 days now.
That’s 88 days since the Sounders last lost an MLS game. Eighty-eight days since the reigning champions last tasted defeat in league play.
The months of July and August? Not an L on the books. September produced a point the one time they took the pitch, too.
Sounders @ FC Dallas, 5 p.m., JOEtv
All in all, that’s 12 consecutive matches in which Sounders opponents have failed to get the better of them — which has the once-middling team one point out of first place in the Western Conference. Mission accomplished? Not even close. But they do look like men on a mission.
“I’m certainly proud of the fact that we’ve gone 12 games unbeaten,” Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer said Wednesday at Starfire Sports in Tukwila. “And each of those games in the 12 have been different.”
Yes, there have been blowouts, such as the 4-0 pummeling of Minnesota last month. There have been squeakers, such as the 1-0 victory over Kansas City the next week.
There have been miracles, such as the 4-3 win over DC United in July, when Seattle scored four times in a 27-minute span to come back from a three-goal deficit.
And, of course, there have been five draws — including the past three games.
That was part of the reason Schmetzer tempered his enthusiasm when discussing the unbeaten streak Wednesday. There have been unconverted breakaways and other missed opportunities that have precluded the team from topping the standings throughout this stretch.
Still, to go that long without suffering a loss is a testament to focus and consistency — especially when you consider that half these games have been on the road.
Away games tormented the Sounders throughout 2016. It wasn’t until June 1 that they earned their first MLS victory away from Seattle, and it took more than two months before they nabbed their second.
Obviously raising the MLS Cup rendered those struggles moot, but the fact that they’ve made that adjustment is telling.
Whether they can make another adjustment is another question entirely, though.
Seattle will have to navigate much of — if not all of — the remainder of its schedule without Jordan Morris in the lineup. The second-year striker has a strained hamstring that will keep him out several weeks.
Morris hasn’t been a huge scorer this year (he is fifth on the team with three goals, whereas he led the team with 12 last year), but the Sounders still lose a major threat that can erupt any time, anywhere.
So what does this mean? Impossible to tell.
A heart condition kept Clint Dempsey — still one of the best players in the country — out of the lineup for the final two months of the season last year. The Sounders were 9-12-3 with him in the lineup, then finished the regular season 5-2-3 before going on to win the championship.
Nobody on the team will say the Sounders were better with Dempsey out (nor should they), but it was clear they had the depth to compete.
This year’s squad is equally deep, and has Clint leading the way with a team-high 11 goals. Moreover, Will Bruin, the Sounders’ second-leading scorer (eight goals) will see more playing time as a result of Morris’ injury.
Will this produce an offensive surge now that Bruin will be logging more minutes? Not necessarily. But it’s not implausible.
Despite the individual opportunity, Bruin was visibly upset when discussing Morris’ injury Wednesday. He has bonded with Jordan in his first season in Seattle and hates the idea of him being relegated to the sideline.
“It hurts any time somebody is going through injuries, but with Jordan it hurts even more,” Bruin said. “He’s such a good guy.”
Good player, too.
But this isn’t unchartered territory for the Sounders, who put their unbeaten streak on the line at Dallas on Saturday. From Obafemi Martins to Dempsey and now Morris — this team has lost some players over the years.
Doesn’t mean they lose games.