SEATTLE — Well, I didn’t see that coming and I’m positive you didn’t either. But sometimes that’s the game of soccer. The Sounders went three months without losing a game — 9 wins, with 12 unbeaten. Last night will sting, but Sunday’s kickoff is just 80 hours away. Here are the winners and losers from last night’s defeat to the Philadelphia Union.
The Legend of Harry Shipp
It’s no secret that Harry Shipp was playing well while the Sounders were streaking. But just how well was that? In Harry Shipp’s last 13 starts, the Sounders were 11-0-2. In the last 13 games where Shipp didn’t start, the Sounders are 2-8-3, including last night’s loss. We can debate all day about his goal and assist numbers, but when the Sounders are playing well, he’s a part of it.
I think he’ll start on Sunday.
Philadelphia’s Playoff Hopes
The stretch that the Union started last weekend has the chance to be season defining, and they started it with a 4-1 loss to playoff rival Montreal. This win, on short rest and cross country, puts them eight points above the red line, with three more grueling games in their future. This weekend they play at home to Sporting Kansas City. After that, they have to travel to Houston for the Open Cup final, and then to Columbus the following weekend. Last night’s win gives them a much needed boost.
A New Streak
After the game, players and coaches were obviously a bit upset with how the game ultimately ended (no one seemed to notice that the Union also ended Seattle’s 13-game unbeaten streak last year). But, the Sounders are still in a great position to gain a home knockout round, if not a first-round bye in the playoffs. So, remember how much fun it was to go streaking? Let’s do it again.
Sounders’ Finishing Boots
Following the game, both Schmetzer and the locker room rued their inability to put chances away, especially in the first 20 minutes of the game. I haven’t seen the xG stats from this game, and I know there are differing models, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see Seattle’s expected goals to be around 2.0 from this game. The chances were there to bury the game.
Look, I HATE complaining or blaming about referees, and I'm certainly not doing that. It’s a principle I’ve had since I was a young lad. But something needs to be said about Elfath’s performance. It was bad. Maybe the worst I’ve seen this season, I’m not sure. It was bad. That’s all I know. The Union fouled Seattle 19 times. FIVE Union players had multiple fouls. There were only two players who received yellow cards, with Jack Elliott ultimately sent off. More than that, both of the plays that led to Chad Marshall and Raúl Ruidíaz being subbed off were caution-worthy, but Ruidíaz’s wasn’t even called as a foul. There were a half-dozen other plays, at least, that were similarly bad. Now I’m just ranting. But I can do that, it’s my column and we all grieve in different ways.
At least he got the VAR call right.
The Left Coast
Look at this bizarre stat.
In a classic MLS move, the 3 games tonight feature all eastern conference teams playing away on the west coast. 10:30pm ET kickoff or later. pic.twitter.com/jNs1NMidlo— Sounder At Heart (@sounderatheart) September 20, 2018
Back when the Sounders played New York City FC, the broadcast shared a stat that said 37 times in MLS history a team had traveled across the country following a midweek game and only two had won. Assuming the stat also includes cross-country games played midweek following weekend games, road teams last night doubled their win total over the previous 22 years.
Nothing in MLS makes sense. Everything tastes like metal.
On to the land of In-n-Out. To another 9-game winning streak. Go Sounders.