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Sounders vs San Jose Earthquakes: Three Questions

What’s going on with the ‘Quakes defense?

Sounders vs. Earthquakes: Photos Photo Credit - MikeRussellFoto

MLS Decision Day 2019 is all about seeding for the Seattle Sounders. The quick version is that if they beat the San Jose Earthquakes and FC Dallas does not win on the road to the Colorado Rapids then Seattle takes the two seed. Fifth is only available if the Sounders lose and the Portland Timbers beat the Vancouver Whitecaps on the road. There are many combinations that result in the three or four seed (and a home game).

San Jose is a broken side. They’ve hired their 2019 coach (Matias Almeyda), but he’s not actually coaching right now. Steve Ralston, one of the heroes of the Revolution’s best era, is the interim coach. The Earthquakes are 0-4-1 -6 under the caretaker. Ralston and the team know that he is not the future.

San Jose may hope to win the Heritage Cup. To do so they must score at least two goals and win. All four of their wins this year would qualify for that. Those were their only wins in 2018.

Oz Lucero of Center Line Soccer answers Three Questions.

SaH: Is getting Wondo the record the most important thing that can happen in this match?

CLS: Wondo getting the record would be neat but after the news came out of the Quakes picking up his option for next year I would much rather it happen in San Jose. The most important thing that can happen this game would be for any player at the end of his contract to prove that they deserve to get a shot to come back next year and play under Matias Almeyda.

SaH: Which players are playing for their jobs under new coach Matias Almeyda?

CLS: Tommy Thompson would be at the top of my list. He has great technical ability that hasn’t translated to success on the pitch but he also hasn’t had consistent playing time or worked within the same system for more than a season. Almeyda has a track record of nurturing young players and that should continue in MLS so if Tommy can’t perform under his management it’s probably time for the both Tommy and the Quakes to think about their future separately.

Magnus Eriksson is another player who has underperformed based on his wages. The Quakes offense did not struggle as much as the defense this season but Eriksson was not as involved as I felt he should have. Half of his goals came off penalty shots and he only has 3 assists all season. He will also be 29 next year which is not over the hill but he’s getting close to the crest.

SaH: The attack seems competent and diverse enough. Why did the defense fail?

CLS: Not being able to replace Victor Bernardez was a huge letdown for the defense. Without a strong leader in the back, the defense can quickly break down and lead to too many openings for the opposing team. For the last couple of years that leader was Bernardez, this year the job shifted to keeper Andrew Tarbell because the person who replaced Bernardez in the lineup, Yeferson Quintana, was new to the league. This did not work out so well and you ended up with a backline that seemed to be in constant confusion which had them chasing the ball most of the time.

Projected Lineup:

I loved the young lineup of last week except I would swap Eriksson for Calvillo


Lima - Ockford - Affolter - Salinas

Ericksson - Thompson - Godoy - Yueill

Wondolowski - Hoesen

CLS: The last 3 seasons the Sounders always seemed to “turn it on” for the last half of the season. Is this by design and can they keep the momentum going into another MLS playoffs?

SaH: I hope it isn’t by design. There have been unique circumstances to the poor start each of the past three seasons. The binding circumstances to the recoveries are two things. The first is Brian Schmetzer. There is no better motivator in MLS. His ability to muster and rally his teams is something that few others in MLS can do (Bruce Arena was one). The other is Garth Lagerwey’s ability to add talent midseason. Nicolas Lodeiro, Victor Rodriguez and Raul Ruidiaz are the key players, but it’s not just them. For all of Lagerwey’s protestations about not wanting to make emergency signings to rescue the season, he’s really good at it.

CLS: Does it matter where in the top 4 the Sounders finish the season? Is there a preferred opponent you would like them to face in the playoffs?

SaH: Due to injuries to Brad Smith and Harry Shipp the bye is the preference (plus I like Halloween and don’t want to play that night). I would hate to play the Portland Timbers on the road. They have earned a homefield advantage that is as strong as any in MLS, plus Savarese’s early run showed the potential for the Timbers to do great things. I want to avoid Sporting KC at all costs. They are probably the best combination of attack and defense in the West, plus they are the fouliest team in the West. It’s boring soccer and I think they would be the only team favored over Seattle.

CLS: Does anybody care about the Heritage Cup?

SaH: The Heritage Cup is an interesting idea with horrible execution. Without getting other teams involved it comes off more as third-wheel, senpai notice me, rather than the nod to history that it is. It’s time for it to go away and be replaced by a preseason tourney that involves every professional club at any level that honors the NASL history (yes, even the Cosmos).

Projected Lineup:

Stefan Frei; Nouhou, Chad Marshall, Kim Kee-hee, Kelvin Leedarm; Osvaldo Alonso, Gustav Svensson; Victor Rodriguez, Nicolas Lodeiro, Cristian Roldan; Raul Ruidiaz

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