After losing to Portland 2-1 last Sunday, the Seattle Sounders look to return to winning ways tonight to wrap up phase 1 of the regular season. Tonight, the Sounders take on the San Jose Earthquakes at CenturyLink Field. It’s a battle of second place versus twelfth place in this Western Conference clash.
The State of The Club
San Jose are a team you can’t describe. They are a wild card in the western conference. They may be rock bottom but they have surprised clubs from time to time pulling off shock draws and wins when opponents come in with the mindset that San Jose is a guaranteed three points.
This was the case in the first week of the regular season when San Jose played Toronto FC this year at Avaya Stadium this year. In the dying minutes of second half stoppage time, Toronto FC conceded a ridiculous free kick on their keepers left hand side. Oswaldo Alanis scored a stunning free kick from such an acute angle to equalize the match which finished in a 2-2 draw. Argentine legend, Matias Almeyda was brought in as Head Coach in 2019 to reignite the team, but there are still problems plaguing the Earthquakes.
The Last Five Meetings
4 Wins-0 Losses-1Draw
The Sounders have had relative success against the San Jose Earthquakes in the regular season. Since the Earthquakes moved to their permanent soccer-specific stadium Avaya Stadium in 2015, the Sounders have not lost a match on the road or at home against the Earthquakes in MLS play. The last time the Sounders lost to the Earthquakes was back on June 20 2015 at CenturyLink Field.
The Last Match
The last match for the Earthquakes at home on Avaya Stadium against the Colorado Rapids on Saturday September 5 proves the inconsistency that plagues the team. Chris Wondolowski scored a penalty kick in the 59th minute to give the Earthquakes a 1-0 lead. Unfortunately, the Rapids would come back to equalize in the 81st minute from veteran MLS striker Kei Kamara header off a corner.
Players to Watch
Cristian Espinoza: The 25-year-old Argentine midfielder joined the Earthquakes in 2019. Espinoza is not a player that scores many goals but what he does do well is assist goals. His first year, he was the team leading assist maker with 13 assists. He plays as a right midfielder and currently leads the team in assists with 4 so far this season. It is clear Espinoza is part of the Earthquakes plans in the long run.
Chris Wondolowski: It may be overrated to mention Wondolowski for the umpteenth time in a match preview article. At 37 years old, Wondolowski is at the tail end of a storied career in Major League Soccer. He wanted to retire at the end of 2020 but decided to reevaluate his options when the season ends. Wondolowski is MLS’s best goal scorer the league has ever had. He scores goal in wide varieties of ways. Since returning to the Earthquakes, mid-way through 2009, he’s averaged 14.36 goals a season. A pure striker with a natural predator instinct, Wondolowski surpassed Landon Donovan’s record last season to become the MLS’s all-time leading goal scorer with 161 goals. It’s obvious Wondolowski is player a league gets to have once in a generation and no player deserves the honor than him.
Vako: Going out on a limb on this one. The Georgian midfielder was signed to a Designated Player Spot in the summer transfer window of 2017. The 27-year-old isn’t the team leader in goals or assists but shots on goal. So far this the season, Vako has 10 shots on goal. He’s certainly a player who’s contributions may not show up on paper, but its his work he does on the pitch that counts.
Key to The Match
Perhaps the key to the match is isn’t tactical but protection. San Jose are known to play are very physical aggressive game. The last two regular season matches in 2019 saw San Jose foul Sounders players a total 30 times, pick up 3 yellow card, and 1 red card.
It’s more imperative, that the Sounders get through this game without any injuries or suspensions.