The Seattle Sounders are back in action again tonight, playing their sixth game in 19 days on their way to playing seven in 23 days. This one is against the suddenly resurgent San Jose Earthquakes, who are 5-2-4 over their last 11, a stretch that started with a 1-0 win over the Sounders on July 31.
Here’s what we’re hoping to see:
‘Lift’ the Heritage Cup
Last Wednesday night obviously didn’t go as planned, as the Seattle Sounders left Las Vegas without the Leagues Cup. Tonight, the Sounders have an opportunity to ‘win’ a slightly less prestigious trophy, the Heritage Cup. Because of how the cup rules are written this year, the Sounders will need to win this game in order to claim the trophy for the sixth straight season after the Earthquakes won the previous match. Perhaps more importantly, a win would also keep the Sounders on top of the Western Conference. — Mark
Know the way in San Jose
After going just 1-5-1 against the Earthquakes when they played their home games in Santa Clara, the Sounders have never lost in seven all-time trips to recently renamed PayPal Park. That includes wins in three of their past four trips there. The Sounders rarely look good in their trips to San Jose — all of those wins were by identical 1-0 scorelines — but they clearly have learned how to get a result there. Let’s hope that experience pays off again. — Jeremiah
Strong set pieces
When the Sounders last played San Jose, they were fouled 16 times and won seven corner kicks. Of course, Seattle lost that game, 1-0. Because the Earthquakes play in such a way that breaks up the flow of the game a lot, the Sounders will need to make set pieces a strength of theirs tonight. We know João Paulo is a great provider from free kicks and corners, and has helped the Sounders score the third most set-piece goals (10) in MLS this season. The Earthquakes also struggle on set-piece defending, where they’ve allowed the fourth most (11). — Mark
Force Chofis to use his right
Quietly, the Earthquakes have been among the league’s best teams over the last 11 games. A big part of that resurgence has been the play of Javier Eduardo Lopez, aka Chofis. The former Chivas striker is among the golden boot contenders with 11 goals, six of which have come in his last three games and eight of which have come during this 11-game run by the Quakes. All 11 of his goals have come off his left foot and he’s especially fond of cutting in from the right. — Jeremiah
I choose you, Pika-Chu!
Leo Chu’s had a really quiet start to his MLS career so far. It makes sense for a young player to need some time to settle in to his new team, especially since he arrived so late into the season. But, Brian Schmetzer hinted earlier this week that Chu may receive his full debut against San Jose. His pace and dribbling abilities may come in handy against a team known to have an aggressive backline. Should Chu be able to get on the ball and break his lines, I think he’s got a decent chance at making a really solid impact. — Mark