TUKWILA, WA— (USLsoccer.com) After having been in the race for first place in the USL’s Western Conference for the first three-quarters of the season, Seattle Sounders FC 2’s chances of missing the playoffs completely continued to teeter on the edge as the side fell for the sixth time in its past seven games in a 1-0 loss to Orange County Blues FC on Friday at Starfire Stadium.
Match Photos: by Jeff Halstead
Chris Cortez’s 57th-minute goal proved the difference for the Blues, who moved into a tie for first place with Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC with the win, as a lack of finishing again undid S2’s chances for a victory. Seattle failed to force a save from Blues goalkeeper Pepe Miranda in the shutout, as the side was shut out for the fourth time in its recent downturn in form.
Despite the defeat, and the continued struggles in front of goal, S2 midfielder Aaron Long remained upbeat after the contest.
“I don’t think it was anything they did, to be honest,” Long said. “I think we made our chances. We just didn’t finish. I don’t think they were doing anything defensively that was stopping us. I think we had our chances. We just didn’t put them away.”
S2 remains in control of its playoff destiny. A win against the Austin Aztex on Thursday night would earn the side the final playoff place in the West, and should Arizona United SC slip up in either of its contests prior to then – on Saturday against Real Monarchs SLC or Wednesday against OKC Energy FC – Seattle would need just a draw in its final contest to advance ahead of current sixth-placed side.
With that in mind, Long said the side wasn’t feeling any greater anxiety after letting a second consecutive chance to book a playoff place slip away.
“No, we’ve just got to play the way we play,” Long said. “If we would have won tonight, we would have been safe, but the result doesn’t change. We still need one win. It’s all possible.”
While Austin will have nothing but pride to play for, though, Thursday night’s visitors to Starfire will have a recent 2-1 win against S2 in their back pocket, and will likely want to end their season on a high note with the chance to spoil another side’s playoff chances.
Despite all of the side’s recent setbacks, though, Long believes S2 will do what it needs to and reach the postseason.
“Tonight we dominated, we just didn’t get a goal,” Long said. “We’ll work on some final third stuff in training, and I think we’ll be fine.”