SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC

Sounders give up 2 second-half goals, lose 2-1 to FC Dallas

Oct 16, 2016, 4:51 PM | Updated: Oct 17, 2016, 12:51 pm

For the second time this week, the Sounders had a chance to clinch their spot in the MLS Cup playoffs with a win. On Sunday on the road against FC Dallas, they squandered it yet again in a 2-1 loss.

A late goal by Carlos Ruiz kept Seattle from even getting a point, meaning that the last match of the season against Real Salt Lake next weekend is going to be exciting, terrifying and crucial for the Sounders.

The Brian Schmetzer revolution in Seattle has been halted in the last couple weeks by a nasty combination of injuries and suspensions, with this week’s absences probably the worst since he took over as interim head coach. Seattle was without Brad Evans, Andreas Ivanschitz, Nelson Valdez, Oalex Anderson and Dylan Remick due to injury, and Osvaldo Alonso’s suspension also made it the third match in a row that the Sounders had a player suspended.

Despite their depleted lineup, the Sounders came out well in sunny Dallas, controlling possession early and showing some good build-up play. The home side probably had the best of the early chances, with a couple shots flying wide, including a dangerous free kick. Stefan Frei had an excellent save (with his face, actually) from close range against Dallas forward Maximiliano Urruti. Nicolas Lodeiro saw the business end of a number of crunching tackles almost immediately, though none gave the Sounders any particularly good free kick opportunities.

The Sounders looked to have broken the deadlock in the 33rd minute when Herculez Gomez poked the ball into the net after it bounced around following a corner, but the referee waved it off for an apparent foul. Who the foul was on was unclear, possibly against Roman Torres for inadvertent contact with the goalkeeper while trying to head the ball. Just under 10 minutes after the disallowed goals, Seattle found the net again, and this time, it stood. Lodeiro found the perfect angle on a dangerous free kick and slipped the ball in the near post to make it 1-0.

The early minutes of the second half saw little action except for fouls, as Dallas desperately tried to get back into the match and the visitors tried to hold their lead. There was bad news for the Sounders just after 60 minutes as Chad Marshall had to be substituted out for Zach Scott due to an apparent injury. The first significant goal threat didn’t real come until the 69th minute, as Dallas’ Ryan Hollingshead got a free header on the corner, but it was right at Frei, who held onto it. Minutes later, Frei had to snuff out a cross from Michael Barrios after Joevin Jones lost the ball in a dangerous spot.

Aaron Kovar came on for Flaco Fernandez after 73 minutes to make his first appearance since his collarbone injury on July 17. Gomez gave up a silly foul that was embellished by Hollingshead in the 78th minute, and the resulting free kick bounced around the box before slipping in past Frei to make it 1-1. Seattle nearly had a goal multiple times, including a wasted free kick after Roldan was kicked in the head near the top of Dallas’ box. The Sounders tried their hardest to defend against the onslaught in the dying minutes, but a lapse from the defense allowed Dallas’ Ruiz to lob Frei and put Dallas up 2-1.

Man of the match: Nicolas Lodeiro was the Sounders’ savior, yet again. Not only did he score his beautiful free kick, but his passing was nearly impeccable for 90 minutes. Cristian Roldan deserves some plaudits as well; he made up for the lack of Alonso in the tackling department, and he drew a number of fouls in dangerous positions.

Turning point: Dallas’ first goal killed the Sounders’ plan to ride their 1-0 lead out, all due to a silly, questionable foul by Gomez. Hollingshead looked to have made the most of the tackle, but Gomez shouldn’t have put himself in the situation. This forced the Sounders to try and attack, leaving them vulnerable to Ruiz’s winner.

One reason to worry: The Sounders failed, yet again, to clinch a playoff spot. A win by Portland also means that the Sounders will have to wait until the final day of the season to know whether or not they’d make the playoffs.

One reason to relax: A win next weekend still clinches the playoffs, as well as a draw or loss by the Timbers in their final match.

Notes

• Injuries and suspensions devastated the Sounders’ lineup, but Schmetzer managed to get the best out of the players at his disposal yet again. Marshall’s injury could make it even worse for next week’s final match of the regular season.

• Referee Mark Geiger was already disliked in Seattle going into this, but his refereeing was just ridiculously poor. He let many calls go, risking injury to a number of players (on both sides, to be fair) and called back the early goal from Gomez for a situation that’s rarely called a foul by most referees. Cristian Roldan was kicked in the face late in the half, but was only given a free kick.

• This was the first time that the Sounders had a lead turn into a loss under Schmetzer. This won’t look good for his bid for the full-time job, but it should be said that it was against the best team in MLS.

Spenser Davis also covers the Sounders for Sounder at Heart.

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