That was certainly not how the Seattle Sounders imagined this week going. Losing to both Sporting Kansas City and the San Jose Earthquakes would have been bad enough, but doing it in the way they did makes it almost unfathomable.
The more depressing loss was the penalty shootout on Wednesday, but the way the Sounders lost 2-1 on Saturday was just pouring salt on the wound. A hard-fought game seemed destined to end in a 1-0 loss, which would have crappy but hardly depressing.
After Fredy Montero scored the equalizer, though, the was a complete 180-turn in emotion. For the Earthquakes to rip that away with a stoppage-time goal of their own seems like too much.
The stats show the Sounders deserved a point. Watching the game, you could even argue they had more quality chances. But they failed to properly account for Steven Lenhart on one final corner kick and that proved to be the difference.
If we take the emotions out of it, there are some bright spots. As Sigi Schmid said, in going to KC and San Jose and standing toe-to-toe with two of the league's best teams, the Sounders showed they have no team to fear. Unfortunately, that's of little solace.
A week that started out with so much promise -- of the possibility to win a fourth straight Open Cup and moving to within spitting distance of the Supporters' Shield -- ends with no real chance at either prize. The Sounders now sit 10 points behind the Earthquakes, who are looking more and more like a team of destiny.
This still looks like a very good team. Maybe even the best once all the parts are integrated. But they will almost certainly have to make their mark in the playoffs, someplace that has not been kind to them in the past.
San Jose Earthquakes (14-5-5, 47 pts.) vs. Seattle Sounders FC (10-6-7, 37 pts.)
Aug. 11, 2012 - Buck Shaw Stadium
San Jose Earthquakes - Jon Busch, Steven Beitashour, Victor Bernardez, Jason Hernandez, Justin Morrow, Marvin Chavez (Shea Salinas 87), Sam Cronin, Rafael Baca, Simon Dawkins, Chris Wondolowski, Steven Lenhart.
TOTAL SHOTS: 18; SHOTS ON GOAL: 4; SAVES: 2; FOULS: 10; OFFSIDES: 2; CORNER KICKS: 8.
Seattle Sounders FC - Michael Gspurning, Adam Johansson, Marc Burch, Jeff Parke, Zach Scott, Andy Rose (Mauro Rosales 82), Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Alex Caskey (Fredy Montero 84), Sammy Ochoa (Eddie Johnson 68), Christian Tiffert.
TOTAL SHOTS: 12; SHOTS ON GOAL: 3; SAVES: 3; FOULS: 17; OFFSIDES: 1; CORNER KICKS: 7.
SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC HEAD COACH SIGI SCHMID
On Seattle's performance against San Jose:
"We've played a lot of games. At the end of the day, I'm proud of what we did and proud of our ability to come back. There were times when we gave up territorially a little bit more than we would have liked, but at the end when you look at good, clean chances, we had as many as San Jose did."
On San Jose's game-winning goal:
"It's inexcusable to give up that goal late. We talked about [San Jose's set pieces] and showed our guys examples of it, and we had done a good job of marking [Steven] Lenhart on all the free kicks and corners up until [the goal]. You can't give him a free path where he has three or four yards to run up to the ball because he's a big guy and he jumps well and we paid the price for it."
On mentality of the team after two close losses:
"We've just have to keep going. With our character, I think we're right there. I don't think there's any team in the league that we have to fear. We're starting to get [Christian] Tiffert integrated into the team; I thought he played well tonight. Now hopefully we can get into a rhythm in terms of not having to play every weekend and midweek and play all these games in a short period of time."
On fresh faces in the lineup on Saturday:
"I think the guys adapted well. I thought [Christian] Tiffert did a good job underneath and I thought Sammy Ochoa did what we asked him to do. Brad [Evans] was playing wide right, which is a different position for him. I thought all the guys stepped up and pretty much did what we asked them to do, but at the end of the day, we made a mistake with 15, 20 seconds to go in the game; that's the last piece of the puzzle. We have the whole puzzle in front of us and we need to find that last piece.
SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC GOALKEEPER MICHAEL GSPURNING
On Seattle's last two games:
I don't know - I have no words for what happened this week. Losing two times in one week is not normal, but from the performance we can keep our head up high. We had two targets and we didn't reach both, so we have to speak about this, but in the end we can't change anything.
On his team's effort to come back and equalize late against San Jose:
"I think our effort tonight showed the character of the team. We had a big effort, but in the end we didn't reach our two targets, so the effort was for nothing."
SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC FORWARD CHRISTIAN TIFFERT
On getting the start for Seattle:
"It was a good feeling. I said it before, I'm fit and I think I had some good action and good crosses. I also think we could play better because we have many good players, good technical players. San Jose played better than us tonight, but maybe next game we can create more chances."
On Seattle's last two games:
"After Wednesday, it was a penalty but we lost nearly the same way late in the game. That is terrible, but it can happen - that's football. San Jose's [Steven Lenhart] had a good header to win the game and that will happen."
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES ASSISTANT COACH MARK WATSON
"Once again, this team showed great spirit and resiliency and found a way to win the game. They really don't stop playing until the final whistle blows and they don't put their heads down for a second. We could have done that after Seattle tied the game, but they kept going and got the win. It was a great ball by Shea (Salinas) and an excellent finish by Lenny (Steven Lenhart)."
"Seattle is a very good team and they made it tough for us out there. Each team had good moments in the game and it was back-and-forth, so give them a lot of credit. I think the difference was that we came out strong in the second half and had a good stretch of play. We were a bit unlucky not to get one earlier in the half, before Simon (Dawkins) got his goal. Most teams would have not come back from giving up that late goal, but this team just keeps going."
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES FORWARD STEVEN LENHART
On last goal:
"It really is more about the team than it is about me scoring. This team never gives up and keeps going all the way to the end. Shea (Salinas) played in a great ball and tonight it happened to be me that got on the end of it. The team went hard all game and we got the win."
On team's attitude:
"We are playing well as a team and we have a great attitude. Whether it is the first minute or the last minute, we are playing hard and creating chances. We are playing for each other and we are having success. That shows at the end of games."
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES MIDFIELDER SIMON DAWKINS
"Steven (Beitashour) had a long throw and I saw the ball get knocked down. I knew that if I took a touch, I might lose the scoring opportunity so I decided to hit it one-time. Luckily, it found the corner and went in."
On dramatic finishes:
"I want to say that I am surprised but it seems to be happen every game. We have a bunch of guys that keep pushing and we all believe that we will find a way in the end. You see it in training. We score a lot of goals there so when we get to the games, we all have confidence that we can score no matter what minute it is.."