Sounders FC vs. San Jose Earthquakes
MLS Regular Season
Saturday, May 17; 7 pm PT; CenturyLink Field
TV/Radio: Q13 FOX; KIRO Radio 97.3 FM/SiriusXM FC (channel 94); THIS-TV, KOMO2 (Spanish); ESPN Deportes Radio, 1490 AM (Spanish)
When Sounders FC faces the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday, it will be a meeting of two teams with something to prove—as teams and as individuals—with both squads playing without big stars due to international duty.
Additionally, Sounders FC is coming off the worst defeat in club history, a 5-0 loss to the New England Revolution on Sunday. The Rave Green will be out to show the crowd that will pack CenturyLink Field that it is a team more representative of the 7-2-1 record it held heading into that match than the one result in the 11th match.
"We just have to know which team we are. I still have a lot of faith in the group and they have faith in themselves," Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid said. "We've got to get back to business. We know we're missing some guys, but that's the way it's going to be over the next three or four weeks. We just have to get back into our rhythm of playing at home the way we were playing before we went on the road the last game."
Seattle won't have Clint Dempsey, Brad Evans and DeAndre Yedlin, as the trio was called in to U.S. National Team camp starting on Wednesday at Stanford University in California.
That opens up opportunities for other players on the squad, and despite the resounding impact that trio has for Seattle, Schmid would like to keep the same approach without them in the lineup. On the surface, that places a heavy burden on the shoulders of forward Obafemi Martins, who becomes the player that will garner the most attention in the match.
However, Schmid is also confident that others will be able to elevate their games to carry the load and keep the top offense in MLS from taking a dip in Dempsey's absence.
"I want us to be able to play along the same lines. Without Dempsey out there it changes a little bit, but we still need to move the ball around and combine down the middle the way we have been, but down the flanks as well," Schmid said. "Not only Oba, but also Marco Pappa needs to step up and make plays. Lamar Neagle as well. Kenny Cooper, Chad Barrett … I'm confident we'll be able to do that."
Cooper, for one, has excelled for Sounders FC through the first 11 matches, netting three goals and one assist to add to his 72 career MLS goals accumulated before he landed in Seattle this year. He is ready to jump into a starting role, if called upon, especially after coming off the bench in the last five matches.
"It's always difficult when you lose top players. We're so fortunate that we have so many top quality players, but that also means that we lose them for situations like these. That's why you have depth and we're very fortunate in that we have a lot of good players and we all have confidence in each other," Cooper said. "It's a challenge when you're not playing games, but we have a lot of talent – a lot of good, honest, hard-working professionals and I think everyone's eager to get out there and help the team out."
Already playing without U.S. National Teamers Chris Wondolowski and Clarence Goodson, San Jose will also be without defender Victor Bernardez and speedy midfielder Shea Salinas. Salinas was dealt a red card in San Jose's match on Saturday against FC Dallas while Bernardez was suspended by the MLS Disciplinary Committee for misconduct in the same match.
While that takes four key players out of the picture and several more are out due to injuries, Schmid and the Sounders aren't about to take the Earthquakes lightly. Like Seattle, the players filling in for San Jose are going to be eager to impress.
"They've got a few more people missing right now, but we expect a San Jose team that still has some quality there for sure. They're still a good team and they are in the same situation as us," Schmid said. "There are players that are going to get chances now on their roster that weren't getting chances and they're going to be hungry."
Kickoff in Saturday's match is scheduled for 7 pm PT, with local television coverage on Q13 FOX.