Sep 19, 2018; Seattle, WA, USA; Philadelphia Union midfielder Fafa Picault (9) celebrates with defender Fabinho (33) following the final whistle of a 1-0 victory against the Seattle Sounders FC at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
SEATTLE – Despite playing up a man for the final seven minutes of Wednesday’s match, an error from Seattle Sounders keeper Stefan Frei led to the club’s first loss in 13 matches.
The 1-0 loss to the Philadelphia Union snapped a record nine-match winning streak for the Sounders. The streak also was a Major League Soccer single-season record for the post shootout era of the league.
“We all knew it was going to end at some point,” Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer said. “We all knew. The fashion it ended in is what makes it sting. Right from the beginning, Stef has saved our asses a bunch of times, more than we can imagine. … That’s not where we lost the game. Not on that singular play. Where we lost the game, was generating chance and chance and chance and not finding that one piece of quality to score one in our favor. All credit has to go to Philly for sticking around.”
The giveaway came late in the match, when Sounders centerback Kim Kee-hee hit a backpass to Frei while under pressure. Frei hit a first-touch pass toward Gustav Svensson on the right side of the field, but put the ball behind Svensson as he tracked back. Union midfielder Fafa Picault pounced on the pass, tucking it between Frei’s legs for the game-winner.
“That play is going to be on a loop for a bit, and it needs to be,” Frei said. “You can’t be like, ‘That doesn’t faze me.’ It’s not how you really move past it. I’ve made many mistakes in my career, but I’ve figured out how to cope with most of them now. It doesn’t make it any easier, trust me.
“I have to deal with it. I will. I’ll show up to work to get better.”
The Sounders peppered Philadelphia’s net with 16 shots, but Union goalkeeper Andre Blake made four stops and Seattle plunked two more shots off the woodwork as they failed to score a goal for the first time since July 7.
Philadelphia had defender Jack Elliot sent off in the 89th minute for a bad foul on Cristian Roldan just outside the 18-yard box, reducing Philadelphia to 10 men for the minutes leading to their goal.
Just as the Union triumphed through early-season adversity to now close in on the Columbus Crew — in fourth place in the Eastern Conference after losing in Portland Wednesday — in the standings, Schmetzer said Seattle’s response to the late loss will define his squad.
“The true measure of a man is not when things are going great; you’ve got a nice girlfriend, you’ve got a nice car, you’re winning nine games in a row. It’s easy to be a good man, good player, good teammate,” Schmetzer said. “When things get tough. When things are not going your way. That’s the true measure of a man. How can you buck up and help your team get results?”