"That brings us right back down to Earth."
Head Coach Brian Schmetzer may have best summed up how most Seattle Sounders FC fans are feeling after the club fell 3-2 at home to the rival Portland Timbers on Saturday afternoon at CenturyLink Field.
"It's a tough loss," he continued. "It's going to sting for a long time."
For a team facing virtual must wins each week to stay in the playoff hunt, sitting 11 points underneath the red line after Saturday, the loss to an arch rival at home is a crushing blow to morale.
Spirits rose sky-high on Friday when Seattle announced the signing of new Designated Player Raúl Ruidíaz, who will be eligible to play following the MLS Summer Transfer Window opening on July 10th, pending the receipt of his P-1 Visa and International Transfer Certificate. Those spirits, unfortunately, have once again fallen.
Ruidíaz will not be available to play for Seattle until July 15 in Atlanta, at the earliest, leaving two more matches for Seattle to stay above water before the new forward can give the team an offensive boost in competitive action.
The problem on Saturday, however, did not lie with the attack. A perfectly placed cross by Nicolas Lodeiro in the 51st minute reached Victor Rodriguez, who put home his first goal of the year to equalize the match at one. And after Portland re-took the lead in the 57th, a Lodeiro corner kick struck the head of Chad Marshall, who sent the ball flying into the goal to tie the match at two in the 68th minute.
Portland grabbed the lead for good in the 74th minute with Larrys Mabiala's second header-goal of the match. Watch all the highlights from Saturday's loss below.
For Portland, the victory marks the club's first MLS regular season win in Seattle. The Timbers have now won both contests against the Sounders this year after a 1-0 victory in the Rose City on May 13. The clubs will play again on August 26th in Portland.
Seattle now travels to Colorado for the annual July 4 Independence Day match, this year coming against the Colorado Rapids in Commerce City. The Rapids are also struggling in 2018, sitting at 11th place in the Western Conference, which heightens the importance of gaining three points in the mid-week battle. The Sounders will then fly to Massachusetts for a match against the New England Revolution three days later.
Leading up to Saturday's loss to Portland, scoring goals stood as the main problem for Seattle. On most days, especially in 2018, two goals in a match would be welcomed joyously. But on a day where backups Jordan McCrary and Waylon Francis started at fullback and Brian Meredith started in goal in place of Stefan Frei, defense became the issue.
Diego Valeri, the 2017 MLS MVP, recorded three assists, including two corner kicks that reached the head of Mabiala, and forward Samuel Armenteros added his fourth goal of the season.
In the 22nd minute, Mabiala saw an opportunity to open the scoring on a corner kick, but Meredith denied the Portland defender's header at the line. Unswayed, Mabiala lost his man on a 48th minute corner and outworked Seattle's Marshall in the 74th minute, earning two goals for the Timbers.
Meredith started for Seattle due to Stefan Frei being in MLS Concussion Protocol after a late collision with Alan Gordon in the Sounders 1-1 draw against Chicago the previous weekend. Frei's status for Wednesday in Colorado is unknown.
Listen to Sports Radio 950 KJR's Sounders FC Post-Match Show below, featuring analysis from the loss, Schmetzer's postgame press conference, and preview for the upcoming week, while checking out a photo gallery from the match.