Colorado Rapids v Seattle Sounders

Are Seattle’s MLS playoffs hopes vanishing before our eyes?


Now, can this really be happening? Can it actually be that Sigi Schmid’s team might miss the playoffs entirely? Seattle sits fourth going into Saturday night … but Colorado could draw level on points later tonight, and San Jose could climb within a point before the weekend is finished.

Depending on how things set up, Major League Soccer’s final match of a very exciting 2013 season could be absolutely riveting. Because it very well may say whether the Seattle Sounders, including the league’s highest paid man, Clint Dempsey, will even be a post-season club.

What a stunning turn it would be – but the Sounders have left themselves here with poor results at crunch time.

The latest was Seattle’s 2-0 loss Saturday to already eliminated FC Dallas, seen on NBC on a sunny Saturday afternoon in Texas. And it was a pretty dour setback for the Sounders, all things considered … a loss without much of a real fight. Seattle and Dempsey only occasionally threatened an FC Dallas team missing its starting goalkeeper and best center back, George John.

That makes Seattle, where manager Sigi Schmid seems unlikely to survive if the playoffs aren’t reached (and quite possibly not even then, depending on how far the club gets in the post-season), winless in its last six MLS matches. The team has lost four in a row, out-scored over that time, 12-2.

Schmid, who was missing three significant figures in Osvaldo Alonso, Obafemi Martins and Eddie Johnson, is accepting a lot of the blame for a team that struggled to hold possession and failed to dig up an offensive rhythm.

“It rests on my shoudlers,” Schmid said, emerging from the visitors’ locker room about 20 minutes after final whistle. “We just aren’t able to come up with the right combinations on the field. … Those guys are fighting and battling. The combinations I’ve put out on the field just haven’t come up with the results.”

How is the mood of the locker room considering the run of poor results?

“Guys are obviously disappointed,” Schmid said. “But we have to get through the disappointment and come back and play. And I have to do a better job of getting the right combinations.”

MLS Snapshot: Orlando City SC 2-1 Montreal Impact

Cyle Larin, Orlando City SC

The game in 100 words (or less): For weeks, it was a widely held belief that the Montreal Impact would snatch up the sixth and final playoff place in the Eastern Conference with little or no resistance from their opposition. As they went six games unbeaten (four wins), all looked to be setting up perfect for the club that fired Frank Klopas midseason, but there was another team in the race for sixth that kept winning themselves: Orlando City SC. On Saturday night, Montreal and Orlando City faced off at the Citrus, with the expansion Lions claiming their fourth-straight victory with a 2-1 triumph. Montreal now holds a one-point lead on Orlando in the race for sixth, and have two games in hand, but it’s no longer a foregone conclusion L’Impact will qualify for the playoffs no resistance whatsoever.

[ MORE: | Week 30 TOTW | POTW ]

Three moments that mattered

33′ — Bush’s mistake gifts Larin the opening goal — Larin did what your taught to do as a striker — “put it on frame, test the goalkeeper” — but in no universe does a shot so feeble have any business finding the back of the net. Evan Bush has been great this year. Hopefully (for Montreal’s sake), this howler doesn’t turn into the yips with the playoffs looming.

43′ — Hall’s “mistake” gifts Oduro an equalizer — Dominic Oduro equalized in the 43rd minute, when he took the ball out of the hands of Tally Hall and smashed it into the back of the net, but the goal should have been disallowed due to Hall having full control of the ball.

80′ — Hines hits the winner for Orlando — Seb Hines put the ball back into the mixer and just so happened to find the back of the net in the 80th minute. Sometimes that’s all it takes.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Seb Hines

Goalscorers: Larin (33′), Oduro (43′), Hines (80′)

MLS Snapshot: NY Red Bulls 2-1 Columbus Crew SC

Bradley Wright-Phillips, New York Red Bulls
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The game in 100 words (or less): Two weeks in a row Columbus Crew SC have had a chance to go top of the Eastern Conference with a victory, and two weeks in a row Crew SC have failed to take a single point from massively important fixtures. Their latest defeat, a 2-1 humbling at the hands of the East-leading New York Red Bulls, started so well for Gregg Berhalter’s side, but was undone by a pair of costly, comedic defensive errors that allowed Lloyd Sam and Bradley Wright-Phillips (15th of the season) to erase an early deficit (Justin Meram) and win all three points. The result not only keeps the Red Bulls top of the East, but gives them a three- and four-point cushion with three and two games in hand on their nearest competitors., D.C. United and New England Revoltion respectively. For Crew SC, they’re four points back of the Red Bulls in fourth place, one point ahead of fifth-place Toronto FC, who have a game in hand.

[ MORE: | Week 30 TOTW | POTW ]

Three moments that mattered

9′ — Meram pokes it past Robles for an early lead — Meram “earned” his goal all the way back in midfield, when the Iraqi international’s mazy run took a routine turnover inside Crew SC’s defensive half and turned it into a dangerous counter-attacking opportunity. Harrison Afful overlapped and provided the cross for Meram to send home.

12′ — Sam capitalizes on multiple mistakes to equalize — Crew SC pass the ball out of the back. They don’t boot it forward to clear. It’s just what they do. Sometimes, that’ll bite you. When your goalkeeper and right back both have blunders clearing the ball 10 seconds apart, you probably deserve to concede an ugly, scrappy goal.

21′ — Wright-Phillips capitalizes on more defensive gaffes — See the above description for Red Bulls goal no. 1.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Damien Perrinelle

Goalscorers: Meram (9′), Sam (12′), Wright-Phillips (21′)