The last time the Seattle Sounders played the San Jose Earthquakes, much fun was had at the expense of our Heritage Cup rivals. The Sounders set a bunch of records while cruising to a 7-1 victory that, honestly, wasn’t even THAT close. Here’s some things to keep in mind when they prepare to face off again.
Earthquakes are significantly improved
The last time the Sounders played the Earthquakes, their opponents were in the midst of an eight-game winless streak in which they were outscored 28-7. Since that streak ended, the Earthquakes have won 4 of 5 and outscored their opponents 11-5, including a 4-0 win on the road against the LA Galaxy on Wednesday. It’s a pretty dramatic turnaround to say the least and it’s largely supported by the underlying numbers. The Earthquakes are still using basically the same personnel and tactics, just with dramatically improved results.
The Sounders will be coming into this game on full rest after Wednesday’s match against the Colorado Rapids was called off. The Earthquakes, on the other hand, played on Wednesday and will be playing their fifth match in about two weeks. The matchup already seems to play into the Sounders’ strengths, and the rest factor only amplifies that. The Sounders should be able to field as close to a first-choice squad as they have available. This is a huge opportunity to pick up some road points.
Finding their way in San Jose
The Sounders went eight seasons between road wins against the Earthquakes but head into this game having won their last two trips there. Notably, both of those were nail-biting 1-0 wins with the most recent one coming on a stoppage time goal from Jordan Morris. Still, that’s a marked improvement and at least a sign that there’s not some sort of curse.
Stefan Frei will be making his 250th appearance for the Sounders on Sunday, pointing him in a two-person club along with Osvaldo Alonso. Frei has been remarkably consistent during his Sounders tenure, logging no fewer than 13 wins and seven shutouts in every campaign. Even in the shortened season, there’s a decent chance he’ll exceed both of those figures this year.
Will’s still looking for a goal
This has been a persistent item in our “things to watch” space, but we’ll say it again: It’s time to get Will Bruin on the scoresheet. The veteran forward has been playing reasonably well, but they really need the big guy to start finding the back of the net too. We still don’t know how long Raúl Ruidíaz is going to be out and how successful this season is could rest on Bruin’s shoulders.