SANDY, Utah — Defensive blunders continue to plague Sounders FC.
The team spent the past two weeks of training focusing on tightening up its protection of the net and working on ways to not give up goals. But the work hasn’t transferred to matches.
Real Salt Lake is the latest team to capitalize, defeating Seattle 3-0 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah, on Wednesday. The Sounders have conceded three goals in each of their past three games and dropped to fifth in the Western Conference with the loss.
“I didn’t think we deserved to lose the game by that many goals,” said Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan via audio provided by MLS. “But, in the end, you lose a game 1-0, 3-0, it’s the same thing. You’ve got to move forward.”
Sounders defender Jordy Delem played a role in RSL’s opening goal. His flubbed pass was picked up by Aaron Herrera, who found Sam Johnson on the counterattack. Johnson sent a fiery, left-footed shot at the goal that deflected off Delem for a score in the 25th minute.
In the second half, RSL midfielder Albert Rusnak was able to create a score just outside the penalty box with a low, booming kick that settled into the goal just beyond keeper Stefan Frei’s reach.
Midfielder Corey Baird finished off the scoring in the 87th minute by chasing down a service from midfielder Damir Kreilach.
Seattle created some good chances at the end of the first half and early in the second but didn’t have a single shot on target in the match.
RSL is 9-2-1 at home this season.
“That stats that stick out are obviously the three goals we gave up,” said Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer via audio provided by MLS. “But then one of my favorite stats – duels won – they’re at 58 percent and we’re at 42. Normally our team competes very well, so that’s an issue for me. We’ve got to start doing some things that stop giving up three goals in every game.”
Lineup adjustments for a midweek game are expected. Seattle, which plays at the L.A. Galaxy on Saturday, had a few more than usual due to injuries and suspensions. Defender Kim Kee-hee served a one-game suspension due to yellow-card accumulation while Roman Torres is in the midst of a 10-game suspension for using a banned substance.
Jonathan Campbell and Saad Abdul-Salaam filled the holes along the Sounders back line. Wednesday was Campbell’s third Sounders appearance, all starts. Abdul-Salaam has performed well on the wing for the Sounders, making his fourth straight start.
The Sounders (11-8-6) also started a new face in forward Luis Silva, who was up top along with Raul Ruidiaz. Silva signed with the team Aug. 7 from a club in Finland, but his last MLS club was RSL in 2018.
But utilizing a different formation and making adjustments at halftime didn’t help the team find a spark. The Sounders have conceded 11 goals in their past five games, going 1-3-1 during the stretch.
“I’m still adapting and it’s going to take some time to get along with some of the guys on the field,” said Silva via audio provided by MLS. “I thought we had a good game plan. It’s soccer, and things didn’t go our way this game. We have a quick turnaround, so we’ve got to learn from this and move on.”
RSL (12-9-4) is under new leadership after Mike Petke was fired as coach on Sunday. Petke was accused of using a homophobic slur in Spanish toward a referee in July. MLS fined Petke $25,000 and put him on a two-week suspension, but the club ultimately terminated his contract and placed longtime assistant Freddy Juarez in as interim coach for the remainder of the 2019 season.