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The Review: Seattle Sounders at San Jose Earthquakes

As with any frustrating loss, we do our best to set some expectations.

Last Updated
3 min read
Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle Sounders had their worst performance of the season on Saturday night as they lost 3-2 to the San Jose Earthquakes. It was a classic monkey’s paw-curling moment as Sounders fans have been wanting a multiple-goal game all season. How young and naïve we were.

There were some minor positive developments, but they were dramatically overwhelmed by the negatives. Sure, there were players who did decent things in given moments, but there wasn’t anything to hang your hat on. The quicker the team, management, and fans forget this game ever happened, the better it is for the overall vibes.

At the risk of being a parody of myself, I think some of the reaction to this game has been kind of over the top. I am not suggesting that people shouldn’t be upset or frustrated, because I very much am both of those things, but I think there are reasonable ways to go about this. Let’s dig into some of the fan reaction and go from there.

How The Fans Reacted

Whenever the Sounders serve up a steaming hot pile of mediocrity, like the one to start this season, we typically have to rehash some of the same talking points all over again. That took place over the weekend as fans tried to attribute blame for the slow start, so let’s get into some of those.

“The roster isn’t good enough!”

I am not sure how anyone could possibly have enough information about this roster at this point to reach any conclusions. It isn’t fun to hear, but through just four games (and a postponement) the Sounders haven’t been anywhere close to full fitness. I’ll make this even simpler: Until this team has at least two of the three starting central midfielders available, I’m reluctant to pass too much judgment on the quality of the roster.

It is entirely possible that this team ends up not having enough talent to challenge for silverware this season. We’re all aware of what happened in 2022 when the Sounders don’t have João Paulo. This current stretch is being amplified by missing even more players, but if we focus just on JP a bit, I think we’ll see something very interesting.

João Paulo makes the players around him better. João Paulo makes the system around him work better. And this time, it’s not just him missing. Albert Rusnák still hasn’t made his first start and Josh Atencio missed the last game as well. Even Obed Vargas was out. The Sounders played their last game with fifth and sixth choice central midfielders, no team can reliably go that deep.

“Is it time to move on from Brian Schmetzer?!”

I think that this question is so loaded that it’s really hard to even begin to answer it. In no uncertain terms, I think firing your coach in March is stupid. Regardless of who it is. The depth of the question won’t be answered in a few paragraphs in a column like this, but I would like to address a couple of things.

As mentioned above, from a fitness perspective the squad hasn’t been in ideal shape. Do I think there are valid criticisms of Schmetzer’s choices and decisions this season? Absolutely. What I think has been missed by some folks and something I think he does deserve credit for trying something different in light of the situation at hand.

The formation and personnel changes haven’t worked, but given that it’s the start of the season and the opposition has been fairly weak, there was no better time to experiment. The results have been bad, obviously, but knowing what doesn’t work is often more valuable than knowing what does work. I suspect Schmetzer will return to a formation and playstyle like ones we’re used to seeing from here on out.

What Happens Next

The Sounders just finished arguably their weakest stretch of their schedule without much to show for it. Typically, you want to beat the bad teams on your schedule to buy yourself room to let the chips fall where they may against the better teams or the tougher parts of the schedule. Well, that hasn’t been happening. And things are about to get tougher.

Next weekend they travel to Carson, Calif. to take on the high-flying LA Galaxy. Are the Galaxy good? Maybe. Can they score a bunch of goals? Oh yeah. I think this poses the perfect opportunity for the Sounders to rebound, if they get things right. The coaching staff needs to revert back to what they know works. Maybe they need to light a fire under some of the mainstays of the team to play better.

As far as knowing valuable information about what this team is or isn’t… We might find out soon enough.