Sounders keep losing “must-win” games

One of the challenges of approaching every sport like a “closing” — because the Seattle Sounders have been saying they’re doing for the final a number of weeks — is that losing a kind of games feels an terrible lot just like the season is over. That black/white method served them properly sufficient in seemingly assertion wins in opposition to the Houston Dynamo and Austin FC, however backfired fairly spectacularly in Saturday’s 2-1 loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps.

The narrative of the sport performed out like so many others on this irritating common season. The Sounders began OK, had a defensive lapse that led to 1 objective, began urgent a bit and allowed one other. They then made some halftime changes, created just a few extra possibilities however did not truly rating till the 89th minute after which had been pressured to accept yet one more one-goal loss.

It was, amazingly, their 14th one-goal lack of the season. No different crew in MLS has greater than 12 one-goal losses.

“We put ourselves on this state of affairs,” Fredy Montero mentioned. “Now now we have to raise our heads and acknowledge at this time wasn’t nice, however the subsequent few games are very important to keep our possibilities alive.”

Even securing a tie in a handful of those games would have put the Sounders in a a lot better place. But even because it stands, they’re solely 4 factors out of the ultimate playoff spot with a sport in hand on all however one of many 5 groups they’re plausibly chasing. With 9 attainable factors nonetheless on the board, there’s a practical path, even when it is one which has treasured little room for error.

The path is obvious sufficient that I’ll go so far as saying that successful out will nearly actually outcome within the Sounders extending their playoff streak. That would depart them on 48 factors and searching on the schedules of these different groups, I feel that is going to be sufficient probably even with room to spare.

The larger query, then, is can the Sounders truly win out?

To be clear, that is wanting like an more and more tall order. The first check is likely to be the largest: a house match in opposition to a much-improved FC Cincinnati wherein the Sounders will probably be lacking Nicolas Lodeiro (who picked up a really regrettable yellow card and will probably be suspended) in addition to a number of internationals. After that they’re going to go to Sporting KC, a crew that has been eradicated from the playoffs regardless of claiming 14 factors of their previous six games and who’s using a five-game house successful streak. The Sounders will shut out the common season at house in opposition to the San Jose Earthquakes.

All three of these are winnable, however so was the Whitecaps sport and we all know how that turned out. Notably, this could additionally require the Sounders to win three straight games for the primary time since successful 4 straight between Sept. 26-Oct. 9, 2021.

I additionally perceive that there’s a huge distinction between believing {that a} turnaround is feasible and believing that one is imminent. The Sounders have been saying all the proper issues about figuring out time is working out for months. They’ve acknowledged that their phrases are empty with out actions that again them up. They’ve recognized a number of recurring issues — psychological lapses on protection, a seeming lack of urgency on offense, and many others. — however failed to significantly treatment them.

It’s solely attainable that no matter is ailing the Sounders is not simply going to get higher, however I’m additionally inclined to depart room for hope.

The excellent news is that this crew is filled with veterans who’ve gained loads of huge games, even comparatively not too long ago. For all their struggles, I feel they’ve additionally proven that they’ve not given up on themselves and that there is nonetheless loads of struggle. There’s no hurt in us doing the identical.

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