First, let’s acknowledge what the Sounders did well Wednesday night at FC Dallas.
They controlled possession and kept the field tilted in their favor for long stretches — from about the 25th to the 70th minute, maybe even longer than that. Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins combined well up top, keeping the pressure on a sharp Dallas defense. Substitute Lamar Neagle continued his hot streak with another bomb from well outside the box.
But as one might expect in a 3-1 loss, the bad overshadowed the good.
David Texeira’s 8th-minute goal — making this the fourth consecutive game in which the Sounders have gone behind in the first half — was preventable, as a rare mistimed jump from Chad Marshall on a bouncing throw-in allowed Texeira to sneak in behind.
“Obviously, the first one took a little header then a little deflection backwards and he’s in on goal free,” Seattle’s Brad Evans said afterward. “(That’s) something that hasn’t happened all year, that one.”
Dallas’ second goal was more commonplace. FCD jolted back to life in the wake on Neagle’s long-range strike in the 58th minute, and it was the goal scorer himself initially beaten by Andres Escobar on the wing 20 minutes later.
Escobar, whose quick feet kept the Seattle back line off balance all night, dribbled past Osvaldo Alonso before cutting a pass for Texeira. DeAndre Yedlin, today named the top pick in MLS’ “24 under 24” rankings, was caught in no man’s land in the middle of the box and Texeira pounced.
The third goal came from another lapse of concentration, when Blas Perez — one of only three FCD players up in the box for an 88th-minute corner kick — cut inside Djimi Traore and beat him to a header that squirted between Stefan Frei’s hands in goal.
“We had more possession than they did overall in the game,” Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said. “Again, some individual mistakes. They had some good pace, ran past some people, and scored three goals.
“We’ve got to stay on our feet when we defend, and we have to defend better than that.”
The Sounders did plenty of things well on Wednesday night. And the upcoming matches against Chivas USA and Colorado are likely to dispel any thoughts of a late-season slump.
But this was a Dallas team without two of its best attackers in Fabian Castillo and Mauro Diaz. The star-studded attack line of the L.A. Galaxy, with whom the Sounders are now even in the Supporter’s Shield standings and against whom Seattle plays a home-and-home the last week of the regular season, is likely to be even less forgiving of miscues at the back.
By the numbers: 12. Number of goals the Sounders have allowed in their last five matches, three wins and two losses.
In their own words: “We were taking shots off the ball a little bit, but that’s the way it’s going to be in the playoffs so we have to be a little bit tougher, meaner, maybe a little dirtier at times. I don’t think we were tough enough at times, so that’s something we’ve got to address with ourselves. We’re expecting the calls and the referees are just really letting the game go now” — Sounders coach Sigi Schmid.
Up next: Sounders vs. Chivas USA, Saturday at 1 p.m. at CenturyLink Field.