Believe it or not, the Wizards aren’t dead yet.
But thanks to their disappointing 2-1 loss to the Seattle Sounders on Saturday before a sellout crowd of 11,522 at CommunityAmerica Ballpark, their playoff hopes are officially on life support.
“The amazing thing is that mathematically, we’re still in it,” said Wizards coach Peter Vermes, whose team dropped to 9-12-6. “(That is) incredible.”
That’s a good word to describe it. But here’s another word to describe the situation they currently find themselves in — dire.
With the loss to Seattle, the Wizards need to win their last three games and have Colorado lose its last two. It’s as simple as that. No losses, no draws, no wiggle room.
And you know what? The Wizards, who have now lost three straight games, only have themselves to blame for that. The Wizards dug early holes they couldn’t overcome in losses to Dallas on Sept. 25 and New York on Oct. 2, and they failed — in Vermes’ words — to play well enough to beat Seattle on Saturday.
“We had a few good free kicks today and a few other chances,” Vermes said, “but it wasn’t enough on our part to get the three points. We didn’t deserve the three points.”
Seattle, 13-9-6, obviously had something to do with that. While the Wizards entered the game seven points out of the final playoff spot, the Sounders had plenty to play for, too. With a win or draw on Saturday, the Sounders would clinch a playoff berth.
And early on, long before a wild second half — we’ll get to that later — Seattle was literally playing not to lose. Despite Seattle’s defensive-minded strategy, the Wizards came up empty on a handful of quality scoring chances in the first half. Consider the following:
•In the 11th minute, defender Jimmy Conrad — off a restart by midfielder Ryan Smith — put a nice header toward the back post that Seattle goalkeeper Kasey Keller managed to get his hands on.
•In the 35th minute, Teal Bunbury headed a cross by defender Roger Espinosa right off the crossbar.
•In the 37th minute, defender Matt Besler put a header on goal that Keller managed to save.
All this happened during a first half in which Seattle, which was hesitant to throw numbers forward, failed to record a single shot on goal.
“The first half, I felt like we pushed the game and played pretty well,” said Wizards forward and team captain Davy Arnaud. “It would have been nice to get a goal earlier, but it kind of felt like the goal was coming for us.”
Seattle, however, beat the Wizards to the punch. Midfielder Sanna Nyassi’s goal in the 66th minute all but clinched a draw (at the very least), and the Wizards fell into an even deeper hole in the 78th minute when Seattle’s Alvaro Fernandez goal put the Sounders up 2-0.
But the Wizards never quit. Arnaud cut the deficit to one on a penalty kick in the 84th minute when Seattle defender Jeff Parke fouled Bunbury, and forward Kei Kamara almost tied the score at 2-2 in extra time when he attempted a sliding shot in front of the goal that bounced off the post.
However, it simply wasn’t meant to be for the Wizards, who must now quickly lick their wounds before they head to Chicago for a Tuesday night game against the Fire that can only be classified as the must-win of must-wins.
“Realistically, we knew that we needed a win tonight,” Arnaud said. “Mathematically, obviously we’re still in it, we’re still going to push to win the last three games.”
A few seconds passed.
“But tonight’s loss,” Arnaud continued, “hurts a lot.”