The Seattle Sounders had a lot going against them. They were without their three Designated Players. Other regular players were out due to injuries, and many of those who were healthy had just played 120 minutes on Tuesday in a U.S. Open Cup battle that ended with seven Sounders players on the field. They also faced a San Jose team that seemingly had their number.
Today, the Sounders we unable to overcome all these challenges and fell 2-0 to the San Jose Earthquakes. The loss dropped the Sounders' record to 2-8-1 against the Earthquakes since 2012, by far their worst mark against any team over that time.
Seattle came out a bit scattered to start the match, trying to get into the groove in an unusual 4-5-1 formation. That resulted in some dangerous chances for the Earthquakes in the first few minutes. But for the rest of the half, Seattle maintained most of the possession and matched San Jose's aggressive play.
Despite the Sounders controlling much of the first half, San Jose scored first in the 28th minute. The play began when Brad Evans got pulled wide to cover the speedy Shea Salinas, and the team tucked in too far to cover the middle of the field. Matías Pérez García found former Sounder Sanna Nyassi unmarked on the right, and after skillfully bringing down the pass, Nyassi buried the shot into the far corner.
One of Seattle's best chances came in the 13th minute, when Lamar Neagle struck a hard shot from about 25 yards out and nearly punished David Bingham, who was a bit too far off his line. Later, in the 34th minute, Marco Pappa put a ball in near post that Andy Rose got a foot on, but Bingham's quick reaction save pushed it out for a corner.
The first half ended with the Sounders down 1-0, despite the fact that they dominated possession (59%-41%) and outshot the Quakes 8-7, including a 3-1 advantage in shots on goal.
Not a lot happened in the second half aside from another Quakes goal. In the 73rd minute, despite building strong momentum, the Sounders let Pérez García dance past multiple defenders on a counter attack, and he slid it around Stefan Frei for San Jose's second goal.
While the Sounders continued to put pressure on the Quakes, they often left Neagle alone up top, or struggled to convert that final pass, and created few dangerous chances near the goal. It was clear their legs were going, as players continuously failed to crash the box late in the match. A late Neagle goal was called back, as Cristian Roldan, who fed Neagle the ball, was offside.
The good news is the Sounders shut down Chris Wondolowski, who was hardly a threat throughout the match. That is where the good news ends. All three Sounders who subbed off—Brad Evans, Andy Rose, and Thomas—had ice wrapped around their thighs. Sigi Schmid said after the game that Evans had a tight groin, while Rose had a tight hamstring. Thomas, presumably, is still working his way up to full match fitness.
For now, Seattle remains at the top of the West, with Vancouver playing later tonight. In just four days, the Sounders face the Philadelphia Union on the road. Again, they will be without Obafemi Martins and Clint Dempsey. Health of the squad will be a big question. Here is hoping the Sounders can get some rest and find a strong, healthy squad for this match.