Three minutes. Three opportunities. No goals.
That pretty much sums up a disappointing night for the Sounders, who lost 1-0 to FC Dallas before 36,026 fans at a soggy Qwest Field on Wednesday night.
But Sounders forward Mike Fucito was so agonizingly close to scoring those three times. In a span of 180 seconds, he fired a right-footed blast from the top of the 18-yard box, then he headed his next attempt inside the six-yard box, and he tried to poke in the rebound.
Nothing found the back of the net. It didn’t help that Dallas keeper Kevin Hartman was up to the task. The veteran keeper made several fantastic saves to deny Fucito and his teammates.
Fucito was one of the few bright spots in a lackluster Sounders attack. Other big-name players, notably forward Fredy Montero, couldn’t produce when it mattered. Montero was benched in the second half. And Seattle’s defense gave up a goal in the 18th minute — the only time Dallas shot on frame in the first half.
Following the match, Sounders coach Sigi Schmid was visibly frustrated.
“The soccer was better but everybody is disappointed with the result,” Schmid said. “I thought we had chances and we certainly went forward. I was certainly pleased with the effort of Fucito. I thought he played very well.
“I thought (Mauro) Rosales had some moments. I thought (Erik) Friberg had some moments. Guys do need to step up. They need to step up and score goals when we get a chance.”
It appears Schmid is growing impatient with Montero’s lack of goals. He was not happy with the designated player’s performance.
“He needs to score,” Schmid said. “End of story. That’s what he’s paid to do. He needs to score. He’s a good enough player. He knows that. He can play make, he can set things up. It’s a difficult task but that’s the task at hand.”
Montero said the opportunities were lacking and that contributed to his inability to score tonight.
Though Fucito didn’t score, either, he was certainly trying. He pushed the front line all night, particularly in the second half. He constantly threatened with his speed, hustle and desire to make something happen.
“I thought we were going to get one,” Fucito said. “The volley at the top of the box was close. (Hartman) got his hand just on the volley and on the header. They were two pretty good saves.”
But while the soccer may have been marginally better than the victory over Sporting Kansas City and the draw against the Portland Timbers, something was still missing. Much of Seattle’s attack was disjointed and uneven. No one could create any sustained offensive momentum. There were plenty of bright starts, moments of opportunity, and effort from all over the pitch.
But no goals.
The telling first-half stat underlines a hard reality: the Sounders directed one shot on goal and created only a couple dangerous chances.
Seattle picked it up in the second half. Led by Fucito, who fired five shots (three on goal) the Sounders shot 15 times in the second half and directed five on target. The quality of the finishing and the quality of the final ball still lacked something special.
Worse, playing catch-up is predictable for defenders. All Dallas had to do was sit back and wait — and foul. Dallas committed 12 fouls to Seattle’s four and picked its moment to counter, which was infrequent. The Sounders had nine corner kicks to just two for FC Dallas.
Rosales and Friberg, both starting in the midfield, worked the right side in the second half. That gave the Dallas defense fits. Montero set up Rosales, who should have scored, and of course Fucito was nearly a one-man band, trying to will the ball into the back of the net.
Schmid subbed Roger Levesque for Alvaro Fernandez, Nate Jaqua for Montero and Lamar Neagle for Rosales late in the game. Jaqua and Neagle worked hard and had an influence as the Sounders pressed Dallas at the end. But no one could create the quality needed to penetrate Dallas’ defense, which remained compact and impervious to Seattle shots.
“They did a good job defensively, blocking crosses and putting a lot of guys in the box,” Jaqua said. “Credit their defense.”
Seattle completes this three-game home stand with only four points. It travels to Utah Saturday to take on Real Salt Lake.
“We’re not happy about the fact we only got four points in three games at home,” Schmid said. “We need 11 guys on the field who are all going to fight and battle at the same time and who are going to make good decisions.”
Or, as Fucito said: “In the end, we just have to put one in the net.”