The performance may not do much to quiet the loudest critics, but the Seattle Sounders got a much-needed road win over the San Jose Earthquakes that allows them to control their own destiny in the season finale. The winner came courtesy of Jordan Morris in the 4th minute of second-half stoppage time after he was able to beat Florian Jungwirth to a loose ball and then chip goalkeeper Daniel Vega.
The Sounders played up a man for about 15 minutes when Tommy Thompson was ejected for stomping on Xavier Arreaga in the 56th minute. But Arreaga was ejected for a rather soft second yellow card in the 71st minute that forced the Sounders to play the final 20 or so minutes 10 v 10.
- Raúl Ruidíaz set up Morris for the game’s first big chance with a clever left-footed ball in the 13th minute. Morris was in 1v1 but Vega was able to make a foot save.
- It was Stefan Frei’s chance to come up big a couple minutes later, making a full-bodied dive to his right to paw away a Magnus Eriksson shot from the corner of the penalty area.
- The first big chance of the second half again belonged to Morris as he skated past a couple defenders and broke in on goal from the left wing only to have his tight-angle shot saved.
- The Quakes nearly got the opener in the 52nd minute when Danny Hoesen set up Vako Qazaishvili in front of goal, but Frei was able to keep out the back-heeled attempt at the near post.
- Two minutes later defender Guram Kashia hit a blast from about 30 yards out that hit the post.
- The Sounders got a huge break in the 56th minute when Thompson was red carded for stomping Arreaga.
- Despite being down a man, the Earthquakes continued to press and nearly scored on Jungwirth’s overhead attempt off a blocked shot that forced Frei into another sprawling save.
- A few minutes after picking up a questionable yellow card, Arreaga got his second on an even more curious call. On what seemed like a rather innocuous foul at the edge of the penalty area, Ismail Elfath first pointed to the spot and immediately showed Arreaga a yellow. After VAR, Elfath corrected the call to a free kick outside the penalty area but chose not to remove the yellow card setting up about 20 minutes of 10v10.
- On the ensuing free kick, Hoesen hit his free kick off the far post. The rebound came out to Shea Salinas, but his header was right at a well-positioned Frei.
- Immediately after, Ruidiaz had a great look at a goal in the 76th minute after a marauding run by Cristian Roldan, but his shot from the center of the box went just high.
- Ruidiaz then set up Brad Smith for an even better chance in the 88th minute. But after breaking in behind, Smith whiffed on his shot attempt.
- The Sounders finally broke through in the 94th minute on a bit of a broken play. Kim Kee-hee started the sequence with an attempted clearance that was headed by a Quakes player told goal. Morris was able to beat Jungwirth to the free ball and then calmly chipped Vega for his 10th goal of the season.
Control of their destiny: Through a combination of this win and some help from other results, the Sounders will clinch the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference with a win over Minnesota United next week. That would give them a home game against the No. 7 seed in the first round of the playoffs, a home game in the Western Conference semifinals if they advance and, just as importantly, put off a meeting with LAFC as long as possible. A win next week could also push them as high as third in the Supporters’ Shield race, depending on how Atlanta United does against the New England Revolution and the Philadelphia Union does against New York City FC.
Frei comes up big: The goal-posts probably deserve a bit of credit too, but Frei has rarely been better than he was against the Quakes. He was credited with 10 saves, the second most he’s had this year and the most he’s ever had in a shutout. Seven of those saves came on shots from inside the penalty area and six of those were from 12 yards or closer. The Earthquakes did just about everything they could, but Frei came up big repeatedly.
Leaving it late: Of the Sounders’ eight wins since they returned from the Gold Cup break, fully half of them have come on goals scored in the 89th minute or later. Although the Sounders have sometimes shown little fight when going down on the road, they deserve credit for continuing to press in situations like this. Those four late winners have added eight points to the Sounders’ total, without those they’d currently be on the outside looking in at the playoffs.
Did you see that?!?
You could say the results went the Sounders’ way.
He said what?!?
“Goal scorers make mistakes, defenders make mistakes, midfielders make mistakes. The kid gave us the win at the end. I’m proud as punch.” - Brian Schmetzer on Morris’ retribution
One stat to tell the tale
4 — Arreaga now has four yellow cards in his past two appearances, all of them reasonably borderline decisions.
Man of the match
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