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Scoreless in Seattle: Sounders' losing streak creates angst in Emerald City

Seattle Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei, second from right, goes down as Montreal Impact forward Jeisson Vargas (16) moves in to kick a goal during the second half of an MLS soccer match, Saturday, March 31, 2018, in Seattle. The Impact won 1-0. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

SEATTLE (AP) - Three games. No goals. Plenty of angst.

That's the situation facing the Seattle Sounders, who are the only team in MLS without a point through the first month of the regular season. The latest setback came Saturday in a 1-0 home loss to Montreal, giving Seattle two home losses after they lost just once at home during the entire 2017 regular season.

Even worse, a team known for its offensive stars has yet to score a goal in its three league games.

"I don't know if we have that many options. I can bring another young guy off the bench or we can try and keep all of our men on the field, which gives you more options," Seattle coach Brian Schmetzer said after the loss to Montreal.

There are plenty of reasons Seattle is off to such a terrible start. The Sounders put an extra emphasis on the CONCACAF Champions League this season and staggered their lineup to have as many top players available for those games. That decision led to weaker lineups for matches against LAFC and FC Dallas, and ultimately didn't pay off as Seattle was ousted by CD Guadalajara in the quarterfinals.

Then there are the injuries. The Sounders have yet to find a replacement for Jordan Morris, who was lost for the year to a torn knee ligament, and whose absence is looming larger than expected. Forward Will Bruin missed time, as did midfielders Nicolas Lodeiro and Victor Rodriguez and defender Kelvin Leerdam.

Finally, there have been some poor personal decisions. Leerdam and Clint Dempsey both received red cards in league matches for trivial retaliatory tactics. Both red cards came in the first half and left Seattle chasing the game, without success, for more than 45 minutes.

"Leadership within this group, I think it's still strong. I don't think it's weak. I think players make mistakes, but the mistakes have to stop happening," Schmetzer said. "If the mistakes don't stop happening, then guys don't stay on the field."

Now Seattle has a week to sit around and contemplate its position before facing Sporting Kansas City on April 15. They also know they have about a month left with their full squad before some key players head off to World Cup training camps.

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