The Seattle Sounders play the new-look San Jose Earthquakes in their new “no fans allowed” corporate park tomorrow.
The two teams are experiencing a minor reversal of fortunes. Seattle, atop the West and the league for months now, just got pasted. Whereas San Jose, still the Western Conference cellar dweller, destroyed Chicago 5-1 last week and just inked a new DP, attacking midfielder Perez Garcia.
San Jose needed to do something about their attack. With two international-caliber players, Victor Bernardez and Clarence Goodson, on the back line, their defense has been stingy. The Quakes have only allowed 20 goals, third best in the entire league. But San Jose has only scored 22 (just a wee bit better than fellow doormats Montreal and Chivas) and that includes their recent smorgasbord against the Fire. They had a paltry 17 goals after 17 games played, whereas Seattle had 17 goals in the 47th minute of Week 8. But scoring goals has never been Seattle’s problem.
Seattle has been trying to improve their defense all season. Before Monday night’s embarrassment, Seattle had only allowed 7 home goals. The Sounders gave up two each to Toronto and Columbus in the first month of the season and then only three more for the next four months. They played six games in Sodo and only gave up three goals: 1 to the Rapids, 1 to the Union, and 1 to Dallas, all in convincing victories. They hadn’t allowed a goal at home since the 16th minute of a match on May 7th. That was over 614 minutes, well over ten hours, of shut-down soccer that came to a blistering halt at the hands of Landon “Mr. Too Old for Brazil” Donovan. Unless the Quakes’ newly-signed Garcia is an attacking revelation, Seattle should have a great chance to re-establish a defensive mindset.
However the Sounders’ bugaboo against L.A. was more their midfield. Seattle couldn’t win possession or duels in the engine room and the entire team lacked hustle. L.A. dominated the middle third and out-possessed and out-dueled us 60%-40%. With Osvaldo Alonso and Gonzalo Pineda, the stats should never look like that. I love Pineda but he played poorly Monday night (and then he manned up and admitted it. Another reason to love him.). Also it was weird to see a healthy Ozzie so neutralized. Dan Gargan owned him and an incredible run of form came to an ignoble halt.
My last thoughts on Monday’s train wreck: the first-half stats. You can’t put too much stock in stats, but they were laughable in the first 45:
L.A had 11 shots on goal, 7 of which were on target.
Seattle had 3 shots on goal, 0 of which were on target.
LA had ten crosses, and Seattle had 0.
After the full 90, the stats were more balanced but the disparity in the first half was indicative of the final score line. Let’s hope Saturday, at Corporate Zombie Park, Seattle plays the grit and intensity we’ve come to expect from this team and reminds San Jose where they belong.