Remember the good ol' days when everything was coming up Sounders? If they weren't pummeling teams into submission with four-goal outbursts, they were registering come-from-behind victories. It seemed no matter what they did, the Sounders were figuring out ways to get a win.
Those days feel oh so long ago now. After their 1-0 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday, the Sounders have lost two straight and claimed just six points in their five games since returning from the World Cup break. Their once robust 10-point lead in the Supporters' Shield has completely disappeared and the previously unstoppable offense has only scored three goals in those five matches.
There is ample reason to be frustrated.
But it's also helpful to have some perspective. In a long season, especially in one as parity driven as MLS, it's the extremely rare that a team can get through the entire way without hitting a serious bump in the road.
Even the 2011 LA Galaxy and 2012 San Jose Earthquakes -- who posted the second and third highest point totals in MLS history, respectively -- had stretches in which they struggled. The Galaxy had one five-match stretch in which they only claimed six points and the Earthquakes had one five-match with five points and another eight-match run in which they claimed just 11.
The Sounders' current run is obviously not good, but it's a little early to start panicking about a reprise of 2013's tailspin repeating itself. As bad as the Galaxy match was, the loss to the Earthquakes was really nothing particularly bad in a vacuum.
The Sounders were generating chances throughout the match and were probably a bit unlucky to go into halftime trailing 1-0. They started the second half slowly, but dominated the match's final 30 minutes or so. The final stats show the Sounders peppering the Earthquakes with 19 shots and forcing Jon Busch into nine saves. If not for Chris Wondolowski clearing Chad Barrett's header off the line and referee Ismail Elfath failing to spot a handball, we could very well be talking about a hard-fought victory.
This isn't to pretend as if the Sounders don't have some problems that need addressing, of course. That free-flowing offense has not been as sharp, there's too much one-on-one play and the center back duo of Zach Scott and Jalil Anibaba's is hardly inspiring confidence. But a road loss to the Earthquakes is hardly the reason to freak out. Certainly nothing a couple wins couldn't fix.
SEA - Yannick Djalo (Chris Wondolowski) 42
Seattle Sounders FC - Stefan Frei; DeAndre Yedlin, Zach Scott, Jalil Anibaba, Leo Gonzalez (Chad Barrett 83); Brad Evans, Osvaldo Alonso, Gonzalo Pineda, Marco Pappa (Kenny Cooper 65); Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins.
Substitutes Not Used: Josh Ford, Djimi Traore, Dylan Remick, Andy Rose, Micheal Azira.
TOTAL SHOTS: 19 (Dempsey 7); SHOTS ON GOAL: 9 (Dempsey 3); FOULS: 12 (Yedlin 4); OFFSIDE: 0; CORNER KICKS: 9 (Pineda 8); SAVES: 3 (Frei 3).
San Jose Earthquakes - Jon Busch; Shaun Francis, Victor Bernardez, Jason Hernandez, Jordan Stewart; Atiba Harris, Sam Cronin, Jean-Baptiste Pierazzi, Shea Salinas (Cordell Cato 87); Yannick Djalo (Khari Stephenson 66), Chris Wondolowski.
Substitutes Not Used: Bryan Meredith, Ty Harden, Brandon Barklage, Alan Gordon, Tommy Thomposon.
TOTAL SHOTS: 13 (Djalo, Salinas 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 4 (Salinas 2); FOULS: 16 (Harris 4); OFFSIDE: 2 (Harris, Wondolowski 1); CORNER KICKS: 3 (Salinas 3); SAVES: 8 (Busch 8).
SJ - Victor Bernardez (caution) 18'
SEA - Zach Scott (caution) 45+1'
SJ - Atiba Harris (caution) 78'
Referee: Ismail Elfath
Referee's Assistants: Frank Anderson, Corey Parker
4th Official: Alejandro Mariscal
Time of Game: 1:53
Weather: Partly Cloudy and 62 degrees
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial
SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC HEAD COACH SIGI SCHMID
On first half of season:
"I think we've done well. I think we've built up a good amount of points. As I said, it's a streaky league so you know you're going to a hit streak where you're not going to get the points that you want in the manner you want them, so now it's a matter of time before we get back to getting points."
"It's tough. Obviously, teams are concentrating on Clint Obafemi in the middle, and when we do get half turns and looks, we get fouled and sometimes the foul gets called and sometimes it doesn't get called. It disrupts your rhythm and makes it harder to play."
SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC DEFENDER DEANDRE YEDLIN
"I thought we started out a little bit slow in the first half, especially me. I feel like we came back stronger in the second half, just unfortunate not to get a goal."
On transition back to MLS:
"I didn't play a 90 minute game in Brazil, so getting back to full-game fitness has been a little tough. I haven't really had much of a break, so that's been tough, but I'm young so it should come along soon."
SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC DEFENDER BRAD EVANS
"I wasn't on the field last week, but I felt as though we created a lot more chances on our end. Our forwards were moving their defenders out of position and we got some guys in behind, but we just couldn't get that last pass to complete the comeback."
On team moral:
"There is definitely some positive stuff we can take away from tonight. Each loss can feel different. Sometimes you can get a win and feel like you stole it, but this loss feels like we obviously progressed from last game and this next game becomes a must-win for us at home."
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES HEAD COACH MARK WATSON
"It was three points we were desperate for. There were a few different spells in the game; I thought the first half we played well at times and at the start of the second half we played well for the first 20-30 minutes. We did really well and had some really good chances. It's tough to lose [Yannick] Djalo because he was very effective for us. In the end, [it was] a really gritty finish. The guys stuck together and withstood some pressure and hung on for a great win and three points."
On Containing Clint Dempsey
"It's not an easy thing to do because he's a player of real quality. I thought the back four did well and the guys in front of him did a great job too. The plan was to deny him service because he likes to get in those little pockets underneath and get the ball under our back four. The times he did get the ball we defended well. It was good individual defending and good collective defending as a group."
On Opening Levi's Stadium
"It was an incredible night. It meant a lot to the players. I think to close down Candlestick the other night - even though it wasn't quite as big of an event - was special. But, to open the new stadium with the fans and just everything surrounding the game - our guys were excited and wanted to put on a good show. It meant a lot to them. To see that - 50,000-something support - was incredible and they were definitely a factor. "
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES GOALKEEPER JON BUSCH
"We were strong defensively tonight. On my end, I go out there just trying to make saves to keep my team in it. Today, I had a couple more than usual and was lucky to clear it from the crossbar a couple of times. It was a fun game to play. Hats off to the boys in front me. They were blocking shots and heading balls away. It wasn't pretty at the end, but we got the three points and that's all that matters."
On beating Seattle:
"It gives us confidence. They are a very good team and they proved it tonight. They never quit on us. They came right at us and we dealt with the attack and weathered the storm. You can never take a lead for granted and the boys in front of me were rock solid tonight."
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES FORWARD YANNICK DJALO
"It was a great pass from Wondo [Chris Wondolowski] and I saw the goalkeeper coming out. I thought he would jump because he saw the game last week, so I put it low and it went in. I was glad to help the team get an important win tonight."
On playing at Levi's Stadium and scoring first goal:
"This is a beautiful stadium and the crowd was fantastic tonight. I have had some good moments in my career, but tonight will hold a special place for me. To score the first goal in such a great stadium with that crowd was something I won't forget."