By TIM FONTENAULT
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Like most players in the Seattle Sounders’ lineup Sunday night at New England, DeAndre Yedlin started hot. His blistering pace had him all over the pitch and nearly produced a fourth-minute goal. It looked like Major League Soccer’s top club had been off for a week, not three used for traveling.
Yedlin only lasted 60 minutes, however, with Sigi Schmid electing to take out his young right back in favor of Leonardo Gonzalez at the hour mark. It was not an issue of stamina, nor was it because Yedlin could be called into the pre-World Cup camp for the United States.
“He was playing poorly,” Schmid said.
Though he was talking about Yedlin specifically in that instance, Schmid expressed his displeasure with everyone on the pitch for Seattle during a 5-0 loss to the Revolution at Gillette Stadium. The Sounders had 60.7 percent of the possession and looked prime to strike first in the match — especially when Obafemi Martins had a wide-open header in the goalmouth — but mental mistakes and bad turnovers gave New England chance after chance, never needing to build possession up over a stretch of time. They went right at Seattle and punished every mishap.
“I know what happened,” Seattle full back Brad Evans said, “just a couple defensive errors, and yea, I don’t know.”
Seattle did have an unforgiving schedule this week. After a come-from-behind win at CenturyLink Field over FC Dallas on Wednesday, the Sounders had to fly across the country for a Sunday night showdown with one of the league’s hottest teams. The Sounders, however, do not see that as an excuse. Schmid preferred to criticize his team sending too many players forward, leaving them prone to counter attacks, like the one that allowed Diego Fagundez to get on the end of a lobbed through ball over the middle from Teal Bunbury and walk in on a helpless Stefan Frei for the Revolution’s fourth goal just before halftime.
“Psychologically maybe we weren’t as alert as we needed to be on certain occasions around the box and maybe defensively as well,” Schmid said. “But even defensively, our positional defense was not good.”
New England’s win moves them back into a tie with Sporting Kansas City for first place in the Eastern Conference with 17 points, five points behind the Sounders, who remain at the top of the overall table.
The Revolution are on fire since taking one point from their first three matches. In their last seven matches, they have taken 16 out of 21 points and now demoralized the league’s top side, although Schmid does not see this one result as an indication of where either team is or will be later in the year.
“You can’t get too high, you can’t get too low,” Schmid said. “Obviously, the Revolution had a great win today. It’s for their coaching staff to determine if they’re five goals better than us. I don’t think they’re five goals better than us, but today they were five goals better than us and we have to accept it. That pain will sit with us, and hopefully we’ll meet again in MLS Cup.”
DEMPSEY TURNS FOCUS TO WORLD CUP
After Sunday’s loss in his return to the stadium where he began his professional soccer career in 2004, Sounders forward Clint Dempsey must now set his sights on Brazil, where he will captain the United States in the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Dempsey, who will presumably be joined by Evans on the final 23-man roster, will enter World Cup camp on the back of a red-hot start to the MLS campaign this year. After a slow start to his Sounders’ career following a move from Tottenham Hotspur last summer, Dempsey has eight goals on 36 shots and has added three assists.
A veteran of two World Cups – and a goalscorer in each of those tournaments – Dempsey is eager to get to camp given his current form.
“It’s important for everybody that if you want to do well that you’ve got to be playing with a good run of form,” Dempsey said. “You want to be confident, you want to get in a rhythm, and I’ve done that.”
Depending on how far the United States go, Sunday could be the last time Dempsey (and potentially Brad Evans) wear the rave green until July. To lose 5-0 is one thing, but for a team to lose 5-0 and then lose its captain and its leading scorer can be tough to overcome.
“It’s not ideal, but that’s the way things go,” Dempsey said.
Dempsey has bigger fish to fry now, however, as the Americans are in what is considered the most difficult group at the World Cup, with Ghana, Portugal and Germany all on the schedule for the United States when they arrive in Brazil.
The opener against Ghana will offer a chance at revenge for Dempsey, who has been on the field for the Americans in both World Cup losses to Ghana, in 2006 and 2010.
“It doesn’t matter who you play, you want to win,” Dempsey said. “But yes, we are due a win against them because we’ve been unlucky. It’s been two close games both times we’ve played them, and we’ll be looking to try and win as many games as possible, and that starts with them.”