There’s something about trips to the Bay Area that seem to absolutely confound reason. There was the 4-0 loss at Buck Shaw Stadium in 2009 when the San Jose Earthquakes were playing out the string on their way to a last-place finish. There was the 1-0 loss at Levi’s Stadium in 2014, the season the Sounders won the Supporters’ Shield and the Earthquakes finished 18th of 19 teams.
Heading into Saturday’s game, the Seattle Sounders had played nine regular-season road matches against the Earthquakes over eight MLS seasons. In all but one of those seasons, the Sounders finished ahead of the Earthquakes in the standings, four times by at least five spots.
Despite their superior squads, though, the Sounders have beaten the Earthquakes on the road just once in MLS play, and that came way back in 2010.
That only serves to make Saturday’s 1-1 tie sting a bit more, as this was the closest the Sounders had come to winning in their last eight trips. The Sounders grabbed the lead in the 84th minute on Nicolas Lodeiro’s spectacular volley and were leading as the match went into the 90th minute. If the tie in Montreal felt like a win, this one felt a lot like a loss. Some other observations:
Lodeiro did what stars do...
For 83 minutes, Lodeiro played what might have been his worst match as a Sounder. He ended up completing just 66 percent of his passes, getting dispossessed seven (!!!) times and looking very ineffective on set-piece service.
But when a sliver of opportunity presented itself, he made good.
Lodeiro’s 20-yard volley found its way through a wall of three players just a yard away from him and past four more defenders and goalkeeper David Bingham before scraping the inside of the far post and finding the back of the net. It was as remarkable a hit as you’ll see anywhere in the world.
After hitting a shot like that you can excuse a guy if he’s kinda feeling it. At least, that’s what I’m assuming after he elected to shoot from about 25 yards out instead of feeding a wide open Joevin Jones on the left wing on what turned out to be the Sounders’ final possession.
You know it’s bad when all of your teammates are pointing out the wide open guy right after you shoot. ... But Nico probably deserves a break. Let’s give him one. And if that goal is the thing that gets Lodeiro going, this missed pass was a small price to pay.
The same goes for Wondo...
As much as Lodeiro struggled for most of the game, the same could have been said for Chris Wondolowski. For once, the Sounders had been doing a very good job of keeping him quiet. Wondolowski’s 90th minute goal came off his first shot of the game and he’d been limited to 20-odd touches.
But he still managed to do what he does best, mysteriously find himself open at the back post for a result-saving chance for his 11th goal in 19 career games against the Sounders. How a player like Wondolowski gets open late in the game when the defense has numbers back is anyone’s guess, but give the guy credit as he seems to make that stuff happen a lot. It should also be said that the finish wasn’t as easy as it looked on first glance.
Marco Ureña’s pass was coming in hot and going through a sea of defenders. But Wondolowski managed to put it in off what looks like his knee. Blame the Sounders for dropping into a bunker or being guilty of marking space instead of men, but also tip your hat to a guy who has absolutely haunted the Sounders.
Maybe we should call them Crizzie Roldonso
I seriously doubt that nickname will catch on, but the Sounders defensive midfield duo deserves some kind of moniker. Once again, they were really good, maybe even better than they’ve ever been.
Just take a gander at their defensive chalkboard: Nine tackles won against two tackles lost; one block; six interceptions; eight clearances; and 20 recoveries. They also completed 89 of their 103 passes.
The duo were also a huge part of why the Sounders managed to win two-thirds of the total duels and controlled large portions of the match. Of course Roldan also moved over to right back for the third straight game to accommodate an extra attacker as the Sounders chased the win.
Stat of the day
8 -- The Sounders are now winless in their last eight trips to San Jose, with their one and only win there coming in 2010.
Quote of the day
“Anytime you get equalized in the 90th minute or so, it's difficult to swallow and we have to look back at the film and see what we did wrong and correct those mistakes.” - Roldan