Match Preview

Keith Costigan: In-depth tactical preview for SEAvSJ

A week that included a win on the road with a record five teenagers starting ended with the Seattle Sounders falling to their first home defeat to their closest challenger in the western conference, Sporting Kansas City.

So what can we take from the result?

First, let’s credit SKC, who lived up to billing with an excellent first half display with Gadi Kinda, Daniel Salloi and Johnny Russell all impressing. It was maybe the first time this season where you felt the Sounders really missed the likes of Nicolás Lodeiro and Jordan Morris. That statement in itself is testament to how well this team has done in the absence of some star players, and Seattle were a Raúl Ruidíaz chip away from another epic Lumen Field comeback.

Looking Ahead

So now it’s on to a San Jose Earthquakes side (2:00 p.m; JOEtv, Prime Video, 950 KJR AM, El Rey 1360 AM | TICKETS), on Saturday, who the Sounders have had their way with in recent times. Last season Brian Schmetzer led his team to a couple of emphatic victories over the Earthquakes, winning 7-1 and 4-1 at Lumen Field. The Sounders did an excellent job of attacking space in behind in both wins with Morris particularly impressive at exploiting San Jose’s 1-v-1 defensive set up that can be troublesome to play against. Without Morris, the onus will be on the Sounders wingbacks, particularly Brad Smith, to constantly attack pace when San Jose play with a higher defensive line.

Ruidíaz has essentially played as a lone striker recently. Even when Fredy Montero has started, he has played a little deeper than the Peruvian International. With news that Will Bruin might be back in the squad for Saturday, will Schmetzer go with two strikers again?

Analyzing San Jose

Matias Almeyda’s side have played with wingbacks recently so that may be the key battle in this clash.

The Earthquakes can argue that in the other two fixtures with the Sounders last year they limited the Seattle attack. Those games both ended goalless, with Almeyda’s side offering a balance of pressing and then dropping to deny space in behind. This season Almeyda’s team have struggled to turn positive performances into three points and currently sit in 11th place, a full 18 points behind Brain Schmetzer’s men.

San Jose have shown signs of a turnaround recently and are unbeaten in their last four matches, including impressive ties with Sporting Kansas City and an improving Colorado Rapids team. Their main issue continues to be in front of goal, with only 17 goals scored in their 15 matches. Chris Wondolowski is still a threat and Cade Cowell is a lively youngster, but their inability to add more attacking depth has stopped them from challenging for a playoff position.

Key Stats

Despite their lowly league position, San Jose average a little over 55 percent possession, bettered only by Atlanta United. Don’t be surprised to see the Earthquakes have more of the ball but the Sounders create more with their transition play on Saturday at Lumen Field.



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