Brian Schmetzer criticizes Seattle Sounders following Cascadia Cup loss

The Seattle Sounders FC have 23 points through 14 matches, sitting in second place of the Western Conference just two points behind punters LAFC.

So why does it feel like failure up in the Pacific Northwest after a 2–nil loss to Cascadian bioregional rivals the Vancouver Whitecaps FC in the Cascadia Cup?

For starters, the Rave Green have gotten bogged down since mid-April with a 2W-1D-4L slump, losing precious points to LAFC in the race for first. Most of the missteps that have bogged Seattle’s defense seem far from corrected – a fatal flaw (or is it single-point of failure) – this early in the 2023 MLS Season.

All of this is wearing down on gaffer Brian Schmetzer and it showed in the post-game presser.

“We have to get back to competing,” he said. “Actually, winning our duels and making plays and making sure we understand that it’s life or death inside the penalty box. I think some of that will carry over into clean sheets, which always gives you a chance to win or collect points. That’s what’s most disturbing to me is we’ve just given up, in my opinion, some soft goals, and so we have to stop that.

“There’s been times where this franchise has been under it even more,” the coach added. “It’s a good thing we started off the season on a good note. Teams are actually catching us fairly quickly, so we’ve got to put an end to that right away.”

The Rave Green have a serious stretch of home matches to make a stand in and draw from the energy and vibes their rabid supporters have been known to bring on matchday. They’ll host complicated, but ultimately manageable, opposition in the New York Red Bulls, the San Jose Earthquakes and the Porland Timbers.

Veteran keeper, Stefan Frei, who joined the team in 2014, urged calm and the need to remain calm.

“I don’t think we’re spiraling, no, we’re not spiraling, we’re not going to panic,” said the Swiss-born keeper who boasts over 320 appearances for the club across all competitions. “We’re going to put our heads down, we’re going to work hard, we’re going to stick together, work for each other and take this club and this team as far as we can.

“These moments are important because this is where you grow as a team. If you’re cruising throughout the whole year it’s going to be difficult in the playoffs. Not saying that I wouldn’t prefer for us to be on top the whole time, but these are the moments that are really going to make you grow as a team.

“It’s about turning that frustration into something a bit more positive or productive. A little bit of anger, a little bit of bite. That can help us in the next three games.”

The Sounders have put up a respectable 20 goals in favor but the possibility of having more lingers as Peruvian international striker Raúl Ruidíaz and USMNT midfielder Cristian Roldan have been out during the current slump. Ruidíaz with a hamstring injury and Roldan out since early April after a concussion.

Coach Schmetzer said both players were due back in training as early as next week but didn’t guarantee they’d be matchday options for the first homestretch match against the Red Bulls on Saturday.

Much like Sounder fans, he too highly anticipates their return and contributions.

“We’ve got some injuries, those are no excuse, that’s just the facts. MLS is a tough league, you have to play through those moments and spells when you don’t have your top players,” he said.

“But we’re getting them back, we’re close. So I think that’ll be a big boost. I think the minute Raúl steps on the field on Tuesday, the minute Cristian steps on the field again on Tuesday, you’ll feel the group get a little bit better, a little bit stronger. So we’re keeping our fingers crossed that we can hold on until those guys are back and then see if we can’t get some results at home.”

The Sounders also have defenders Kelyn Rowe and Ethan Dobbelaere listed on the injury report

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