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Sounders fall in San Jose: A calamitous clash

The Sounders played a chaotic and frustrating road game against the Earthquakes in which they finally: scored multiple goals, had a goal from open play, and still gave up a devastating winner.

Last Updated
5 min read
Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle Sounders took a trip down to PayPal Park to face the San Jose Earthquakes in desperate need of a get-right game. They didn’t get it, but maybe this disappointing result will finally be the one to galvanize them to better ones in the future.

The game started pretty evenly, with Seattle generating the first real chance through Jordan Morris, a left-footed shot that was saved at the near post. As the first half wore on the two teams settled into something short of a rhythm, but things were pretty even in terms of possession and chances. That all went out the window in the 42nd minute, when a set-piece for San Jose was recycled and eventually Bruno Wilson flicked a ball into the box and Vitor Costa slid in ahead of Alex Roldan at the back post to slam the Earthquakes into the lead. Just two minutes later the Earthquakes doubled their lead, this time via Preston Judd and Cristian Espinoza, who was first-by-a-mile to a rebound off a Stefan Frei save. The goal was initially called back for offside, but upon review it was determined that Judd was onside at the beginning of the play, and the Sounders went into the half trailing by as many goals as they’d scored all season up to that point.

Seattle were able to get themselves back into the game via a penalty midway through the second half. Yeimar went up for a header at the edge of the area and took a bump in the back from Paul Marie, and the referee immediately pointed to the spot. Raúl Ruidíaz stepped up to the spot, sent William Yarbrough diving and calmly put his panenka into the back of the net to make the score 2-1 in San Jose’s favor.

It looked like maybe things were turning in the Sounders’ favor when Cody Baker sent in a gorgeous cross from the right wing to Danny Musovski at the back post. Musovski nodded the ball home to level the score with the momentum seeming to swing their way in the 81st, but immediately off the next kickoff Jeremy Ebobisse was sliding ahead of Cristian Roldan to connect with a ball from Jack Skahan and push the Earthquakes back in front. Try as they might, the Sounders couldn’t find their answer through what remained of regulation time and nine minutes of stoppage time. Seattle remains winless to start the season, but they have finally scored a goal from open play.

Key moments

6 - Jordan Morris has the first shot of the game. The Sounders get down the field quickly on a fast restart, and Morris forces a save and a corner.

28 - Pressure from Alex Roldan forces the Earthquakes to give up a throw-in, which the Sounders take quickly setting up a long Ruidíaz shot that’s caught.

42 - Goal, San Jose. Vitor Costa slides in to put home a flicked header in the box, beating Alex Roldan to the ball and slotting it by Stefan Frei. 1-0 Earthquakes

44 - Goal, San Jose. Preston Judd forces a save from Stefan Frei, but the rebound falls to Cristian Espinoza with no one around as he hits home. 2-0 Earthquakes

57 - Danny Leyva finds Morris with a wonderful ball over the top, but after controlling the ball with his chest his shot is saved by Yarbrough.

72 - GOAL! Raúl Ruidíaz cuts the deficit in half from the penalty spot. Yeimar is hit in the back to draw the penalty, and Ruidíaz’s panenka does the rest. 2-1

81 - GOAL! Danny Musovski scores his first goal as a Sounder, rising to connect at the back post on a great cross from Cody Baker to level the score. 2-2

82 - Goal, San Jose. Immediately off the restart Jeremy Ebobisse runs in on goal to slot home a ball from Jack Skahan to retake the lead. 3-2 San Jose

Quick thoughts

Just not good enough: There are injuries and absences and shifted positions, roles and formations to point to for some struggles, but the fact remains: It just hasn’t been good enough. The blame doesn’t rest on guys stepping in for the regular starters who are unavailable, it rests on the guys who are seemingly written in pen on the team sheet who have failed to do the job week after week (after week, after week). They’re letting themselves down, and letting their teammates down as they make sloppy passes that put the team under pressure and leave attacking players completely unmarked. For a second week in a row, a goalkeeper made a solid save only to have the rebound fall to an opposing player with no Sounders anywhere near them as they hammer the ball into a practically empty net. They need to take a long look in the mirror, because returning players won’t fix these problems.

Where did the defense go? The Sounders were an elite defense in 2023. There was plenty of reason to think, going into this season, that they would be again: they had returned the starting back line and goalkeeper, made some quality depth signings to bolster that core, and promising young players like Cody Baker and Reed Baker-Whiting should be able to take the next step in their development. Injuries and absences have meant that the ideal back-five haven’t seen the field as much as we’d like so far, and the fact that João Paulo still hasn’t seen the field has left the defense with a little less cover. But there still should be enough there to stand up against what MLS sides have to throw at them. And yet, through four games, the Sounders have given up six goals that all left the goalkeeper with little they could have done to prevent them. Through seven games last season, the team had only allowed three goals, and after their 4-1 defeat against the Portland Timbers in their eighth game in 2023 the side had still only given up one more goal than the Sounders have allowed in just half that number of games. That their worst defensive performance came in the first game with their preferred back five is certainly concerning as well.

At least there were some goals: Ruidíaz scored his second goal of the season on his second penalty – both of them panenkas – tonight. That goal puts him at 80 all-competitions goals for the Sounders, making him the club’s top all-time scorer. It also means that in four games he’s already got one-third of his goal contributions from last season (five goals, one assist), so that’s something. In addition to Raúl’s goal, Musovski opened his Sounders account with what is the first goal from open play that the team has scored so far. I won’t call those silver linings, but they’re at least not negatives.

Notable quote

Man of the match

Cody Baker - They were fleeting seconds, but for a moment it seemed like a beautiful cross from substitute Cody Baker had earned the Sounders a draw and the potential for something more. It wasn’t to be, but Baker showed well while playing multiple roles across the back line and up the right wing in his 30-minute appearance.