Seattle Sounders defiant after painful loss to Portland Timbers: “We will fight to the very bitter end”


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Friday night brought another loss for the Seattle Sounders, another setback that runs their ongoing winless skid to four games amid a deeper 2W-7L-1D slump since early July. Another worrisome sign their amazing 13-year streak of Audi MLS Cup Playoffs qualifications is under threat.

This one hits that much more painfully because it happened in Portland, at the hands of their old enemies the Timbers, capped by the unpleasant necessity of their supporters’ groups handing off the Cascadia Cup trophy to their Oregonian counterparts. Because the result hinged on a controversial penalty-kick decision against them that set up Dairon Asprilla’s equalizing goal after a thumping Yeimar Gomez header gave the visitors a dream start.

Like many of those with Rave Green affiliations, Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer wasn’t buying Eryk Williamson’s tumble in the Sounders penalty box. But he was balanced and self-aware in acknowledging it was his team’s shortcomings – Portland’s expected-goals numbers, for example, were more than triple Seattle’s – that put them in a position to be undone by one or two marginal moments.

“The crux of the issue was we didn’t play well enough to win. If you remove the penalty – which we all know it wasn’t a penalty – if you remove that from the game, that’s still one portion,” said Schmetzer postgame. “I thought the key for me was when you play from the lead, you should be able to establish your tempo, your rhythm to the game.

“It just seemed like we weren’t able to control possession at 1-0. And if you don’t control possession, you don’t control tempo. And then coaches, fans everybody complain about when a team in the second half goes down, and they waste time and they take the sting out of the game. Well, there’s teams that do that in the first half as well, but our team is just too honest. I think we could have taken some of the sting out of the game.”

Even at that, substitute Jackson Ragen saw a late header crash off the woodwork with five minutes to go, a leveler denied by a matter of inches. Yet the reigning Concacaf Champions League winners still remain outside the playoff places, tired, injury-hit, seemingly bereft of good fortune. And with seven games to go, their window for a late dash into the postseason is closing fast.

“Not giving up”

The Sounders maintain they’re keeping the faith.

“Yes, of course. We believe. We have time, we have points. I don’t know why you ask the question,” said playmaking talisman Nico Lodeiro. “But we believe in our team. We have many points to win …We know the situation is difficult, it’s complicated, but we’re not giving up yet.”

For better or worse, Seattle must immediately pivot to yet another gut check, a midweek cross-country trip to Florida to play fellow playoffs-chasers Orlando City SC on Wednesday (7:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+). Three points there could well shift their position upward and restore some wind to their sails. Anything less, and that path to the playoffs erodes even further.

“You saw that they don’t quit,” said Schmetzer. “I mean, Jackson could have made it 2-2, another good ball by Alex [Roldan], almost a slam dunk. We had some other half-chances there in the second half after we went down 2-1. So I think the mentality of the group is still there. We will fight to the very bitter end.

“But again, it’s two tough losses – one draw [at the LA Galaxy last week], one loss, in a row. So the real test will be Orlando, traveling across the country, playing an opponent we don’t know very well. We’ll have to regroup for that one, for sure.”

WATCH: Portland Timbers complete comeback over Seattle Sounders in drama-filled affair

Seattle Sounders defiant after painful loss to Portland Timbers: “We will fight to the very bitter end”

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