Sounders left speechless with recent tough losses
Seattle's roller coaster season hit another low point following Wednesday's upset loss in the U.S. Open Cup. Coming into the week, Sounders FC had been on a three-game winning streak.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Sounders FC @ Chivas USA, 7:30 p.m., KONG
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If a four-goal loss Sunday to the Los Angeles Galaxy had staggered the Sounders FC fan base, then an upset defeat Wednesday in the U.S. Open Cup knocked it to the canvas.
The one-two combination, capped by a 1-0 road loss to the second-division Tampa Bay Rowdies, seemingly came out of nowhere.
Coming into the week, Seattle had been enjoying a three-game winning streak and six-game unbeaten streak, having impressively dug its way out from the worst start in franchise history.
Instead, misery is back, and the Sounders' roller coaster season has hit another low point.
"We're incredibly disappointed," said veteran defender Zach Scott after the Open Cup elimination. "I don't even know what to say — especially me. I've been in this tournament for many, many years and we have always done really well. This one hurts a little worse, for some reason."
Like Scott, a former lower-league Sounder, Open Cup success had been a Seattle mainstay even before joining MLS in 2009.
Going back to the United Soccer Leagues, the Sounders hadn't been beaten in the annual knockout-style tournament since 2007 (losses in penalty-kick shootouts, like in last year's final, technically go into the record book as ties).
Wednesday's defeat ended an 18-0-4 unbeaten streak, a record for the MLS era of the Open Cup, and the last time a Seattle team didn't make it past the third round was 2006.
Being spectators the rest of the way, for the three-time champions, will "definitely be strange," said coach Sigi Schmid heading into an MLS-only summer schedule for the first time.
The Sounders, though, have no time to wallow due to another short turnaround.
And as bad as things have been the past few days, fortunes have been worse for Saturday's opponent, Chivas USA, which fired coach Jose Luis Sanchez Sola late Thursday night.
The Los Angeles-based team has lost four games in a row by a combined 13-1 score and is in an 0-6-1 drought overall. Off the field, Chivas doesn't have an English-language television deal, averages a league-low 8,059 fans per game, and was recently sued by a pair of former youth coaches for discrimination.
A popular phrase recently for downtrodden Sounders fans has been, "At least we're not Chivas," and Saturday will be Seattle's chance to prove it belongs in a different class.
"It wasn't that long ago that we seemed untouchable, and that's the part that we have to remember," said goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann. "The hard work that we put in (Wednesday), with a bit more quality, and we're there again."
• Schmid indicated midfielder Osvaldo Alonso could be ready for Saturday's game after missing the past two with a groin strain.
• The Sounders haven't been able to convert their past four penalty kicks in the Open Cup after a crucial attempt by Obafemi Martins was saved Wednesday. Seattle missed its final three shots in a PK shootout in the 2012 final.
• Sounders FC forward Eddie Johnson played 45 minutes for the U.S. national team Wednesday, and midfielder Brad Evans played 21 in a 4-2 exhibition loss to Belgium. Johnson drew a penalty kick to set up the final goal of the game.
• Four of 16 American MLS teams were eliminated in the third round this week, including the reigning MLS Cup champion Galaxy and last year's Supporters' Shield-winning San Jose. Colorado was the other.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter: @joshuamayers