The right back gets sent off in the 40th minute after slapping defender Daniel Lovitz. Montreal gets a second-half goal to send the Sounders to 0-3.
Sounders striker Will Bruin changed into his street clothes after what his coach termed “a pretty brutal wake-up call’’ and pondered what lies ahead.
The locker room around him was mostly silent, almost sheepish, after a 1-0 loss Saturday night to the Montreal Impact largely predicated on a veteran player taking a foolish red card for the second straight week. A Sounders team that hasn’t scored all year — a franchise record 270 minutes to start the season — was forced to play most of the way without right back Kelvin Leerdam after he was tossed in the 40th minute for a face-slap to opposing defender Daniel Lovitz.
Nagging at the team even more than this 0-3, goalless start is the fact that red card takers Leerdam and Clint Dempsey are two veterans and among the team’s top players. And at a time the squad has been racked by injury, losing those players to reactionary, ill-timed judgments has compounded what could have been a short-term problem into a much longer one.
“You’ve got to show emotion, but you’ve got to keep it in check,’’ said Bruin, playing his first game since suffering a concussion against Chivas more than two weeks ago. “That’s two weeks in a row that selfish plays have cost us.’’
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The crowd of 39,469 at CenturyLink Field saw the Sounders turn up some second-half offensive heat despite being down a man. They pushed upfield and forced Montreal keeper Evan Bush into a number of point-blank stops.
Bruin had one of them, firing a one-timed blast directly into Bush’s arms from the top of the box in the 69th minute.
That came after the Impact opened the scoring in the 60th minute when Montreal forward Ignacio Piatti made some nifty moves to evade defenders and slipped a pass over to Jeisson Vargas for an easy strike from close range.
The Sounders pressed for an equalizer, but every shot seemed to go directly to Bush.
Gustav Svensson headed a Nicolas Lodeiro free kick into the Montreal goalkeeper in the 74th minute. And Lodeiro, making his first appearance in weeks after a right midfoot injury, had a point-blank chance from the left side in the 84th minute only to have Bush stick out his right foot and deflect the ball away.
The Sounders previous record for failing to score at the start of a season was 260 minutes in 2011. They went scoreless the first two matches and needed a Steve Zakuani goal in the 80th minute to salvage a 1-1 draw with the Houston Dynamo.
Bruin feels the chances show that the team has yet to fully demonstrate how capable it is. That the injuries, red cards, schedule and bad luck doesn’t come close to showing what the Sounders can do at full strength.
And that’s what was so frustrating about all the late chances while down a man in this one. The Sounders, to a man, feel they let this one get away by putting themselves in a bad position to start.
“It’s all on us,’’ midfielder Cristian Roldan said. “We can’t be doing those things, and I think we’ll more than learn from those situations.’’
Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer said he was “very disappointed’’ in Leerdam and guaranteed afterward that his players will be using this as a lesson. Schmetzer had warned the team after Dempsey’s red card in Dallas that video review means they need to be careful about errant swipes behind the play.
The normally levelheaded Leerdam was flagged by video review shortly after he and Lovitz collided on a midair challenge for a ball. They exchanged words near the sidelines afterward, with Lovitz starting to walk toward Leerdam.
The Sounders defender put his hand up as if to keep Lovitz away, then swatted him — rather gently — across the face with it. Play was halted soon after and a downcast Leerdam seemed to know he’d be gone even as head referee Ismail Elfath was reviewing the footage.
“It comes down to me because I have to make sure that I tell them exactly what the expectations are of this club,’’ Schmetzer said. “It’s not the way we want to do things. It puts the team in jeopardy. It’s not the style of soccer that we want to do. It’s not the sportsmanship that we want to have within this club.’’