Everything was ready to go for the Sounders on Sunday.
Except for the actual team.
Seattle, which has admitted multiple times it is scoreboard watching as it closes its Major League Soccer season, knew it — at the least — needed a tie against host D.C. United to clinch a playoff berth after a day of losses and ties from Western Conference foes. The Sounders couldn’t manage a tie or a victory.
D.C. defeated Seattle 2-0 at Audi Field, and because Minnesota United FC tied 0-0 with Portland on Sunday afternoon, Seattle remains second in the Western Conference.
“The performance wasn’t good enough,” Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer said. “It was the action in the final third. …If you want to break teams down, you have to play from the sprint. You have to be dynamic in your attacking movements and I didn’t think that happened.”
D.C. hopped on the board first in the 14th minute. Seattle didn’t fully clear the ball, leaving an opportunity for midfielder Lucas Rodriguez to drive a right-footed shot inside the near post.
In the second half, veteran forward Wayne Rooney beamed a free kick at the goal, and teammate Frederic Brillant was able to redirect the shot into the goal in the 54th minute.
The 2-0 lead didn’t completely deflate the Sounders. Substitutions made by Schmetzer strengthened the offensive attack with striker Luis Silva and midfielder Joevin Jones. The visitors also denied D.C.’s push for a third goal.
But it didn’t matter.
“I want to forget,” Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei said. “They had their way with us.”
Seattle had two solid chances to score in the opening half. Defender Brad Smith dribbled down the left side to create a one-on-one shot against United goalkeeper Bill Hamid. The latter was able to deflect the ball in the seventh minute.
Striker Raul Ruidiaz had a powerful, on-target attempt from outside the box in the 12th minute that went over the crossbar. Defender Gustav Svensson also had a good look in the 23rd minute that was saved.
In the second half, Sounders defender Kelvin Leerdam set up Harry Shipp for a shot that was blocked. And Smith sent a cross to Silva in the 85th minute that was saved by Hamid. The keeper had four saves in D.C.’s third straight clean sheet.
“We’ve played almost last (of the MLS games) every weekend and seen every result and score go our way and it’s really unfortunate because we haven’t been able to take advantage,” Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan said. “At this point, it’s really tough to find energy, but you have to push forward and take care of the opportunities that have been given to us.”
The Sounders were without captain Nico Lodeiro because of a lower-back injury suffered in the 27th minute of a scoreless draw against FC Dallas on Wednesday. He was tackled by Michael Barrios and a foul was called on the play. Lodeiro completed the game but couldn’t make the cross-country trip for Sunday’s match. The Uruguayan hadn’t missed a minute of MLS play since July 3, when he was with his national team competing in the Copa America in Brazil. He leads the Sounders with 12 assists.
Sounders winger Victor Rodriguez shifted over to play the midfield. It was the Spaniard’s first start since he suffered his hamstring injury against Columbus on July 6. Rodriguez played as a sub the previous two games.
“It’s his first week back in action,” Schmetzer said of Rodriguez. “My expectations were in line with that. He collected a few goals. Obviously that part of the team might not have been as cohesive as when Nico is in there because we’re all used to how Nico plays.”
The club was also without steady center back Xavier Arreaga, who served a one-game suspension due to yellow-card accumulation. Svensson replaced him on the back line.
Seattle has a week to prepare for a pivotal match at San Jose, the club’s final road game of the season.
“It’s do or die right now,” Frei said. “The West is extremely tight and positioning matters. At this point, I don’t even care how we get results. If it’s going to be ugly, I don’t care as long as we get the points.”