Sounders' Season Over after 2nd Loss to Portland in Semifinals
The Seattle Sounders’ season has come to an end after a second playoff loss to Portland Thursday night. The Timbers beat the Sounders 3-2 in Portland to win the two-game, aggregate-goal semifinal series 5-3.
KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel says the game was an embarrassing end to the Sounders’ rocky season.
Portland Was Dominant
"The Sounders were clearly outclassed by the Portland Timbers," Art said.
Portland won the first game of the two-leg, aggregate-goal semifinal series 2-1 in Seattle last Saturday. And, rather than lay back after that win, Art said "they went very aggressively after the Sounders and dominated" game 2.
Portland was ahead 3-0 early in the second half Thursday night. The Sounders rallied to score two goals within three minutes. But Art said, in the end, it was not enough.
"Portland goes on to play Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference finals and the Sounders go home to a winter of discontent, mystery and complaint," he said. "It was a tough way to go out at the end of the season."
In his column for Sportspress Northwest, Art writes: "The Sounders’ season of high expectations came to a messy end with their ninth winless game among the season’s final 10 for a team that for a short while in early September had the best record in Major League Soccer. The late-season collapse was among the worst in Seattle sports history and a humiliation for a team that took great pride in its five-year run of success."
It was a season of disruption - from injuries and call-ups to the U.S. Men's National Soccer team for 2014 World Cup qualifying matches. Clint Dempsey, Eddie Johnson and Brad Evans were all called up to play in games on the national team.
"They never had same lineup more than two games in a row," Art pointed out. "They were not able to build team cohesion."
Designated player Clint Dempsey was a mid-season acquisition. Another designated player, Obafemi Martins, was added in April after training camp.
"I think most any coach would've had a difficult time managing," Art said.
Dempsey: Promise Unfulfilled
Dempsey is the captain of the men's national team and was a star acquisition for the Sounders in August. But he only scored one goal late in the season and was out a lot with injuries and national team call-ups. And Art adds that he was targeted a lot by other teams' defenses. He calls Dempsey “kind of a waste—for this year, at least."
Should Schmid Stay or Go?
Even though the Sounders briefly had the best record in Major League Soccer, some fans are calling for the firing or resignation of coach Sigi Schmid. But Art says, not so fast.
"I think that's a little premature," he said. "Yes, they did fall off the edge of the earth over the last 10 games but that wasn't because he became stupid all of a sudden. I think there's an opportunity to go ahead with most of these players and Schmid, because this (season) was so disruptive that it shouldn’t be counted against Schmid’s record. I still think he's a solid coach who deserves to keep his job."