Seattle • Jeff Cassar wrestled with the decision, even after the 4-0 loss. The choice was to give center back Chris Schuler the day off as the two top teams in Major League Soccer faced off on the turf inside CenturyLink Field on Saturday.
With three important matches in seven days before the official FIFA World Cup break, Cassar decided that with Schuler’s history of foot — and recently knee — issues, the turf could do more harm than good.
"It’s an extremely tough decision," Cassar said. "I don’t enjoy holding [players] out, but sometimes you’ve got to take it out of the players’ hands. That’s on me. I have to sometimes do what’s best for what we think for the player and not just the team."
Schuler’s replacement, Aaron Maund, made his fourth start with RSL this season, each start coming in replacement of Schuler. Maund was whistled for a 41st-minute penalty kick by referee Ricardo Salazar and fouled Brad Evans in the 55th minute. That call eventually led to Marco Pappa’s free-kick goal.
"Anytime you leave your feet, you leave it up to the referee to make that call," Cassar said. "I thought Aaron battled through it and it’s about moving on and it’s about showing your character."
Barring injury, Schuler will be available for Wednesday’s match at Columbus and Saturday at home against Portland.
Making something out of nothing?
Can RSL’s first loss of 2014 be spun into a positive? Following its 4-0 loss at Seattle, players are about to find out. Unbeaten through its first 12 matches, RSL’s thumping loss to its Western Conference rival signaled the end to its impressive 24-point run.
"That’s why it’s tough to keep getting results in a string like we did to start a season," midfielder Ned Grabavoy said. "Sometimes you don’t get the ball to bounce your way or the call to go your way."
Nat Borchers is confident in his team’s ability to bounce back.
"I think that we’ve got some big games ahead of us, and it’s going to be important to respond, for sure," he said.
First loss for Cassar
Jeff Cassar’s unbeaten start to a head-coaching career in Major League Soccer, tied for the longest in league history at 12, did not make it to 13.
So how was the 40-year-old RSL coach feeling after his first loss as a head coach?
"I don’t enjoy it," he said. "I don’t want it to happen often, but we knew it was going to happen. It was a fantastic run that we went on, but I’m trying to make sure our team is going to react the same way I do."
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