San Jose Earthquakes next up for Sounders as busy month of August continues

Sounders FC vs. San Jose Earthquakes

MLS Regular Season
Wednesday, August 20; 7 pm PT; CenturyLink Field
TV/Radio: JOEtv (KZJO-Ch. 22, Cable 10); KIRO Radio 97.3 FM; ESPN Deportes Radio, 1490 AM (Spanish)

Sounders FC has a quick turnaround after Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Real Salt Lake and for a team with goals as lofty as Seattle’s, a speedy return to the pitch may be just what it takes to get back atop the Western Conference standings.

The loss moved Seattle out of the top spot for the first time since April 19. A win or draw against the San Jose Earthquakes on Wednesday would make it a short-lived stay in the second slot as the Sounders continue their quest for the Supporters’ Shield. 

“For us, we have a chance to do a lot of special things this year and we have to recommit ourselves and rededicate ourselves to wanting to do that.  I think we are a committed team and I think we are dedicated to those goals and we’ve got to realize that this can be a very special year,” Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid said.  “We’re in an Open Cup final, we’re in the hunt for the Supporters’ Shield and certainly the playoffs then loom at the end of the season.  We can make this a very memorable season but that’s in our hands.  It’s a matter of us now grabbing ahold of that.  But I’m confident the team is ready to grab ahold of that.”

Sounders FC suffered the fate of two individual mistakes costing a result at Rio Tinto Stadium, which left the players frustrated after a strong week of performances that included a 2-0 win over the Houston Dynamo and a 6-0 win over the Chicago Fire in the U.S. Open Cup semifinal.  While a one-goal loss on the road against a team that now leads the Western Conference is far from an outlandish result, it is far from the expectations held in Seattle.

Although he’s not one for moral victories, Schmid was encouraged by the resolve of the team late in the match as it pulled a goal back and fought for an equalizer in the waning moments against Salt Lake.  Over the final 20 minutes of the match, Seattle held a 7-1 shooting advantage, but only got one goal out of the effort.

“We showed some of that spirit and resolve that we’ve had throughout this whole season.  We just have to continue to do it.  They were highly motivated and played a good game,” Schmid said.  “We’ve run into a couple of teams that have played their best or close to their best games against us.  If it takes somebody’s best game to beat us, they’re not always going to be able to bring that best game.  It’s just a matter of us getting ready now for the task at hand this week.”

Against San Jose, Seattle will have Obafemi Martins back available after the forward served a red-card suspension against RSL.  That will help in the attack, as will the possibility of re-inserting midfielder Marco Pappa after he missed Saturday’s match with a hamstring strain.  Brad Evans has also shown quick progress after a hamstring injury of his own suffered in the first half of the match in Utah.

Seattle has shown depth all over the field, with Chad Barrett scoring his fifth goal of the season on Saturday, as well as Kenny Cooper and Andy Rose adding a different dynamic in the Open Cup match against Chicago and in different roles against Salt Lake.

“We have a bunch of players on this team that could start for any team in this league,” Barrett said.  “It’s tough when you’re not playing games, but in that Open Cup game you saw what Andy Rose could do.  You saw what Cooper could do with good minutes.  And it keeps the guys that are starting on their toes because there are guys ready to take their spots.”

Regardless of who Schmid puts on the field, the expectation remains the same on Wednesday – win the game and reclaim the top position in the Supporters’ Shield chase.

“It’s always about individuals playing well.  When individuals play well, teams play well,” Schmid said.  “We want to win on Wednesday and move ourselves back on top.”

The match kicks off at 7 pm PT and will be broadcast locally on JOEtv (KZJO Ch. 22, Cable 10).

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