SEATTLE – Brian Schmetzer walked into his post-game press conference looking like a man who just drank sour milk to wash down a bite of moldy bread.
The Sounders coach was in no mood to make excuses for what he just witnessed in the 1-0 loss Saturday to the Montreal Impact.
“This was a brutal wake-up call for us,’’ Schmetzer said. “We have to stop shooting ourselves in the foot. This is going to stop. The mistakes have to stop happening.’’
Once again, a senseless red card forced the Sounders to play most of the night 10 vs. 11. Seattle already was playing without Clint Dempsey, who was suspended after a red card in the previous game at Dallas because of a hit to the groin area of an opponent.
Losing one of your best offensive players on a team struggling to find any offense is bad enough, but playing a man short the entire second half from another red card made it even worse. At 0-3 in MLS play, the Sounders have yet to score a goal.
Defender Kelvin Leerdam was a red-card offender this time. Leerdam undercut Montreal defender Daniel Lovitz with a hip to Lovitz’s back when Lovitz leaped for the ball near the boundary in the 40th minute.
But the red card came for what officially was listed as violent conduct. Video replays showed a slap to the face by Leerdam on Lovitz.
“I'm very disappointed,’’ Schmetzer said. “Kelvin understands what he did and he apologized. But it comes down to me making sure everyone knows what we expect on this club. This is not the way we do things. We play with sportsmanship. I understand things get heated, but that’s when you have to be the most composed.”
The only goal of the game came in the 60th minute when Montreal star midfielder Ignacio Piatta darted past two Seattle defenders and made a perfect pass to Jeissen Vargas for an easy tap in from 10 feet out.
The Sounders had several chances to tie the game afterward with nine shots in the second half, including seven inside the box, but none found the net.
“The chances we created we pretty decent,’’ Schmetzer said. “I felt like we played better with 10 men [in the second half]. We were more determined.”
The only thing that kept the Sounders from being down 1-0 at the half was a spectacular save by Stefan Frei and a free kick by Vargas. The booming kick whistled to Frei’s right, but he leaped up and tipped the ball just outside the post.
The crowd of 39,469 at CenturyLink Field roared and the momentum appeared to be with the Sounders until Leerdam’s red card.
“It’s very frustrating,’’ said Sounders captain Nico Lodeiro through an interpreter. “We know what we need to do to get out of this. There’s no doubt the game changed tonight with the mistake on the red card.”
It was a dejected locker room after the game for the Sounders, a team unaccustomed to losing at home. Now they’ve lost both MLS home games 1-0 to start to season.
“We have to stay even more united as a team,’’ said Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldon. “It hurts to lose and it hurts even more at home, but it’s ourselves. It’s not like we’re getting outplayed.”