Sounders have ground to make up with depleted roster at season’s midway point
Seattle had one of its worst first halves of a season in its history, partly due to a devastating rash of injuries that got worse on Saturday.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Rapids @ Sounders, 1 p.m., KONG
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The beat-up Sounders limped to the midway point of their regular season Saturday.
A 1-0 road loss against the San Jose Earthquakes was Seattle’s second straight defeat and third in the last four games. A three-game road losing streak has matched the longest in franchise history.
The battering has been literal, as well, as three more injuries on top of an already depleted roster has nearly 43 percent of the team at risk of missing Saturday’s game against the Colorado Rapids.
If MLS Cup is the singular goal for the Sounders this season, they don’t have the look of a championship contender halfway through at 7-7-3.
Frustration within the fan base is growing. Patience, especially in Year 5, is dwindling.
Coach Sigi Schmid is under no illusions either.
“We’re not happy,” he said when asked his thoughts on the first half of the season.
To think all hope is lost, though, is to ignore recent history — of both Seattle’s tendency for a strong second half and the unpredictability of the playoffs.
The Sounders have a 37-12-15 combined record in the back half of the regular season. That’s a 1.97 points per game average, compared to 1.38 in the first halves at 29-27-25.
The past four MLS Cup winners, starting when the Sounders joined the league in 2009, haven’t been especially strong starters either. Two had losing records at their respective midway points. Three of the four were among the last teams into the postseason field.
The unpredictability of the MLS playoffs won’t mean anything if Seattle doesn’t qualify out of a competitive Western Conference, though, and to do so the team will need to get healthy. Signing a difference maker or two in the summer transfer window, which ends Aug. 8, would help, too, but the injury list has reached epidemic proportions.
The Sounders came into Saturday’s game with eight players injured and then had to use all three substitutions by the 53rd minute — all due to injury.
Midfielder Brad Evans (rib) had to come out in the first half, defender Djimi Traore (hamstring) came out in the second half, but most concerning might have been a switch at halftime. Goalkeeper Michael Gspurning had to leave at the break with an injury the team fears could be a broken left forearm.
Gspurning said he had no feeling in his arm after getting stepped on by Earthquakes forward Steven Lenhart. X-rays are scheduled for Monday.
“It’s not displaced, but it’s definitely possibly fractured,” Schmid said.
The Sounders’ championship prospects, it seems, will need much longer to diagnose.
• Referee Sorin Stoica told a pool reporter Saturday that Sounders midfielder Osvaldo Alonso received a red card late in stoppage time for “violent conduct” involving “contact above the shoulder” with Earthquakes defender Dan Gargan.
Video of the play shows minimal contact. Seattle had a red card overturned by an independent review panel earlier this season, when Obafemi Martins was ejected from a June 1 game at Chivas USA.
|The Sounders reached the season’s midway point Saturday, and a 1-0 road loss capped the team’s worst first half to a season, in terms of points per game, since 2010.|
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @joshuamayers.