MLS Soccer

Lost weekend becomes longer for 5 Sounders players when travel plans go awry

If you travel enough, some of those travel plans are going to go wrong.

The Seattle Sounders feel like they’ve been traveling more than enough lately, and plenty went wrong Sunday on their return trip from Columbus.

“There was a flight change that didn’t get communicated to us until Friday,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said. “Our game was Saturday. It affected our return flight. So we had to scramble, try to find new flights. Two of them went off without a hitch, so we got 13 of the players back at the time we wanted to get them back. But then there were five guys who were stuck on two flights that then hit weather delays and another cancellation, so some of the guys didn’t get back until 9-10 (o’clock Sunday) night.”

For the unlucky five players — Schmid declined to name them — it made for an 18-hour travel day out of what the club ranks among the most difficult destinations in Major League Soccer.

“There’s two places for us in Seattle that are difficult for us to get into: Columbus, because we’ve got to connect; and the other one is Montreal,” Schmid said. “Those are the two where probably a charter could help because every time you’ve got a connection you’ve got to deal with not only your plane — does it have a delay or mechanical problem — but the next one, does it have a delay or mechanical problem. It just makes for a long day.”

And that long day capped a frustrating weekend that included a 3-2 loss to the Crew.

“We know we didn’t have our best game,” captain and central defender Brad Evans said. “The first 15 minutes we had no idea what they were doing — we were completely lost. I think everybody can admit that. And then we figured it out and after 15 minutes we started keeping the ball. We closed out the half well, and then they score within four minutes in the second half, and then we’re chasing, it opens things up, and you don’t want that on the road. Comedy of errors.”

That result ended a three-game winning streak for the Sounders. However, it didn’t cause a tumble in the Western Conference standings: Seattle started and ended the weekend third in the points race. However, the Sounders shouldn’t look behind them because four clubs loom just two points behind.

And that’s really riding the bumper of a Sounders team facing a particularly difficult test ahead: a third consecutive road game, this time against Vancouver.

“(The Whitecaps are) playing the best soccer in the league right now,” Evans said. “… We’ve got to be good going away from home, and if that means playing a little more defensive, then that’s what it means. But the most important thing is to get a result on the road. Whether that means a tie or a win, after a long road stretch you’ll take either of those, and then you’ll take the (next) three games at home.”

The Sounders also can take consolation in knowing there won’t be any long airport delays this time. The team is traveling to British Columbus by bus.