The Seattle Sounders face the San Jose Earthquakes tonight in a game that, let’s be frank, they should win. Champions win the games they’re supposed to. You can’t regularly drop points to the cellar dwellers and expect to be relevant come autumn. The superfluous Heritage Cup is at stake, but more important is Seattle’s champion bona fides.
I hate to admit it but the Seattle Sounders are a paper tiger. They have the brand and the following and some pretty accomplishments, but they’ve never dominated when it mattered. They’ve never won MLS Cup. Year after year they make the playoffs and year after year they crumble. Last season Seattle suffered the worst late-season flop in professional sports since the Philadelphia Phillies of 1964. Tonight the Sounders can reverse this trend by proving they belong in the championship conversation.
Frankly, I want a hat trick from Clint Dempsey. He has been bone dry since returning from USMNT duty. Deuce has started five games, going the full ninety (or 89+) in each, and only has one goal and an assist. His best game in this stretch may have been at San Jose when he had 7 shots (3 on goal) and was just unlucky to get skunked. Deuce has always been a streaky scorer, and now is the time for him to shake this jag. Remind everyone why you make the big bucks #2, and put this team on your back.
What should we expect from tonight’s game? First, San Jose has completed their transformation from boot-and-chase to something that actually resembles soccer. Former Bash Brother Alan Gordon was traded to the L.A. Galaxy last week and new DP Matias Perez Garcia scored in his debut and was just ruled out 4-6 weeks with a torn meniscus (updated 5:20 PDT). Other than that, the Quakes remain in similar shape to the last time we played them. Like two weeks ago, former USMNT center back Clarence Goodson is still injured, although until last week’s 5-0 thrashing at the hands of FC Dallas the Earthquakes’ backline had performed well in his absence.
San Jose is playing for nothing but pride at this point in the season. They’ll be even more pissed in the wake of last week’s pasting. Great. All the Sounders need is a pissed-off Earthquakes team laying the lumber on some tired Rave Green legs.
Bold Prediction: Luckily Yannick Djalo, who scored the lone goal in the last meeting between these two teams, remains questionable to play with an injury. Though Seattle wasn’t able to unlock this team in San Jose, they’ll do so early and often in SoDo. Seattle 3-1: Deuce disappoints with only a brace.