SEATTLE - There might not yet be panic in the Union locker room, but there is growing cause for concern.
The Union, once again, struggled mightily in the offensive third and fell 1-0 to the Seattle Sounders in front of an announced crowd of 38,399 at CenturyLink Field. The Union (2-5-1) were shut out for the third time this season and have yet to score as many as two goals in a game.
"We talked about it during the week, our guys are a little hesitant to pull the trigger," Union interim coach John Hackworth said. "We had some chances, especially in the first half, to put the ball on goal and you have an open window to let a shot ride.
"We're putting a lot of pressure on ourselves, in particular our midfield and defensive line when we're not doing a good enough job of stretching our opponent and not doing well in the final third."
Facing a 22-year-old goalkeeper who was making his first career MLS start, the Union only managed to put one shot on frame and never really tested Bryan Meredith, who was actually one of two Sounders who had never started before.
On numerous occasions, the Union built what seemed to be a promising attack, only to see it fizzle out with a poorly placed pass or to have the ball taken away after waiting too long to set something up.
"I think sometimes we were trying to do too much," Union midfielder Freddy Adu said. "We have to do better, we do. That's an area that we've had problems with all season long and we have to get better than that."
Despite the offensive struggles, the Union actually came very close to pulling out a point in this one. While the Sounders outshot them 19-6, Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath (five saves) and the crossbar (two "saves" of its own) were able to keep it close.
The Sounders took the lead in the 63d minute when Fredy Montero slid a ball to Mauro Rosales on the right wing. Rosales made one touch and was able to beat MacMath to the far post.
"Tough loss, I thought the guys worked really hard and played well for 90 minutes," MacMath said. "There was a little lapse on that throw-in and unfortunately Rosales had a good shot at the back post."
The Union also felt a snubbed by the officiating. Andy Rose, the other Sounders player to make his MLS debut, had picked up an early yellow and committed a foul from behind on Adu that easily could have been his second. But referee Ricardo Salazar, probably with an eye on the clock, which was still in the 28th minute, opted against putting the Sounders down a man.
"I was through and gone and just got taken out from behind," Adu said. "In the rules of the game, they said if a player tackles you from behind that's a card. I don't know why, but the referee made a decision and we have to live with it."