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Postgame Pontifications: Letting points slip

Sounders can’t afford to walk away from winnable games empty-handed.

MLS: Seattle Sounders FC at Colorado Rapids Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time this season, the Seattle Sounders needed to play three league games in a week. That they won two of them and arguably played well enough to get at least a point in the other is probably a good sign. But this remains very much a work in progress.

This was most obvious in the final game of the set — which the Sounders lost on the road to the Colorado Rapids, 1-0. Specifically, it underscored how the Sounders seem to be struggling to get the most out of games.

“The flow of the game just wasn’t very good,” Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer said. “We had good possession but we really weren’t dangerous. We could have been more dangerous, especially on the left side, but the timing wasn’t there.”

Although no one was really outstanding in the game, the left side was where the problem was most apparent. Jordan Morris was repeatedly able to find space on that side, and was matched up with the aging Steven Beitashour who seemed to be ripe for exploitation. But Morris failed to do much that resulted in much genuine danger.

A perfect example came in the 9th minute when Jackson Ragen put Morris into space on the left wing. Morris gained separation on his defenders and had Raúl Ruidíaz making a near-post run. But Morris opted to try to bend the ball with the outside of his right boot rather than fire in a more straightforward left-footed cross. The ball went through the box and the danger vanished.

Morris also looked like he got stuck between two minds later in the match when a defensive error allowed him to break in on goal. Again, Ruidíaz was a willing runner, which forced the defender to hedge a bit. Morris took the space and tried to chip the goalkeeper, but didn’t put nearly enough on it and Lalas Abubakar was able to clear the shot off the line.

Morris eventually came out in the 80th minute, having attempted just one shot, 12 passes and one dribble. Nouhou, who was paired with him as the left wingback, also didn’t do much to push the Sounders forward. Combined, the pair had just 22 touches in the attacking third, about half as many as they had a game earlier against the Houston Dynamo.

Losing a game at Colorado is hardly an unexpected result. The Sounders have just won once in their past six trips here and the Rapids are carrying a 23-match home unbeaten streak. But they were also missing several starters, playing on the same short rest as the Sounders and didn’t do much to threaten the Sounders backline. Aside from the chance the Rapids scored on, they generated less than 1.0 expected goals.

None of this is cause for panic, but it is a reminder that the Sounders are running out of room for error. Their next five games are all at home, and if they’re to make a serious charge up the standings they can’t afford to let claimable points slip through their fingers like they did against the Rapids.

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