SEATTLE – Sounders defender Tyrone Mears lined up an early free kick near the right sideline, looking to turn what would prove to be his team’s best spell of the game into a rare goal.
Mears approached the ball, took a mighty swing with it with his right leg … and slipped on the shoddy temporary grass surface. His legs went out from under him, and Mears landed on his rump with a thud.
His team’s weekend followed a similar trajectory. Seattle entered Friday in a tie for first place in the Western Conference despite having lost four of its past five games. It left CenturyLink Field on Saturday night in a tie for fifth, as results elsewhere and a 1-0 home loss to the last-place Colorado Rapids combined to drop the Sounders down the standings like a temporarily airborne right back.
Seattle (10-9-2) has scored two goals in six games since Obafemi Martins went down with injury and Clint Dempsey got suspended.
In an effort to rally his teammates, veteran Zach Scott took charge of the pregame huddle.
“ ‘It comes down to effort,’ ” rookie midfielder Cristian Roldan relayed the message. “ ‘If you have effort, you’ll win the game.’ Unfortunately, it wasn’t like that for us. I thought the effort was there. I think the effort has been there.”
Seattle coach Sigi Schmid made some of the lineup changes he hinted at earlier this week. The Sounders lined up in a 4-3-3 formation, Neagle, Thomas and Cristian Roldan up top with new signee Erik Friberg getting the start in the midfield.
The tinkering did little to lift the team’s recent offensive malaise.
The game action was tentative, wary.
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