Coach Sigi Schmid says team is like “a blunt razor.” Captain Brad Evans sounds off, says he’s never had to scream so many times “for people to wake up, to the point where I almost lost my voice.”
Fans streamed toward the exits, clogging up aisles and with backs turned away from the action.
An official count of 47,537 spectators attended Saturday afternoon’s Sounders-New York City FC match at CenturyLink Field, but only a fraction remained at the final whistle.
Sounders fans may be late arriving, but they’re rarely early leaving. Rarer still is the standing the club currently finds itself in, second-to-last in the Western Conference and with a spot reserved in the basement should Houston beat Portland on Sunday.
Seattle’s 2-0 loss to NYCFC on Saturday was its fifth in six MLS matches and fourth by shutout. The Sounders (5-9-1) have now scored just 13 goals in 15 games, last in the league and just two more than New York City forward David Villa has scored this season by himself.
Most Read Sports Stories
- Former Sonics coach Nate McMillan had great success in Seattle. What he's doing now with Atlanta might be his finest work yet.
- 'It's a sticky situation': Mariners pitchers weigh in on MLB rule change on foreign substances
- Mariners notebook: It's looking like a sore wrist is coming back to haunt Ty France
- You've got to hand it to the Mariners, they really know how to enjoy close games
- Seahawks can have full capacity crowds at Lumen Field this season, team announces
“I probably would have left, too,” Sounders captain Brad Evans said. “I’ve never in a game had to scream so many times for people to wake up, to the point where I almost lost my voice. It should be a given that you have to work your ass off at home — every bouncing ball. When you lose the ball, you’ve got to track back and win it. Fight for every single header.
“The givens aren’t there. That’s why we’re losing games.”
That — and poor finishing. That, plus a razor-thin margin for error that comes from not being able to score goals and a self-fulfilling prophecy that causes chins to droop with every bad break.
Saturday afternoon’s flashpoint came in the 38th minute, when NYCFC midfielder Frank Lampard scored off a corner kick.
In real time, it appeared as though he’d knocked the bouncing ball over the line with his chest. After a succession of replay angles that got progressively slower, though, one shot did appear to show the ball glancing off Lampard’s wrist. Referee Alan Kelly conferred with fourth official Juan Guzman, but neither got a good look at it.
Seattle pressed for a game-tying goal but not with much palpable urgency. It passed the ball around NYCFC’s penalty box but never really posed a legitimate threat.
“We’re like a blunt razor,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said afterward.
New York City buried the dagger in the 87th minute with an assist from Sounders defender Joevin Jones, whose pass was intercepted by Villa in Seattle’s penalty box and eventually finished off by Ronald Matarrita.
The 2015 Sounders lost 9 of 11 midway through last season. That edition, though, stockpiled a cushion of points in the early months of the campaign. That squad had both Clint Dempsey and Evans coming back from national-team duty and Obafemi Martins returning from injury.
“Last season, you had the excuse of missing key players. I don’t think we have that this year, really,” defender Tyrone Mears said. “I know Clint (Dempsey) is away with the U.S., but I think we’ve still got a good squad here, and I think we should be picking up results.”
Seattle now has the worst goal differential in the Western Conference at minus-six — and that’s before an upcoming month of games that may be the most challenging on its entire schedule.
“Certain guys are maybe OK with how it’s going,” Evans said. “Maybe they’ve been at teams before where losing was a tradition and you wait for the next season to get a fresh start. But that doesn’t happen here. We don’t have losing seasons. We don’t rest when we’re losing. We’re not OK with it. So it’s got to be an eye-opener.
“Some guys it’s in one ear and out the other, ‘I’m here to do my thing.’ And some guys are here for the team. We have to figure out the best combination, and we’ve all got to be on board for the same goal. Because if we’re not, we’re just going to find ourselves at the bottom of the table.”