In tense midweek action at PayPal Park, Seattle Sounders FC (4-0-1, 13 points) battled to a 1-0 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes (3-2-0, 9 points) in a match that pitted the top two teams in the Western Conference against one another. With the win, Seattle remains both the top team in Major League Soccer and the West, matching the best start to a season in club history with 13 points from five matches (this mark was also reached in 2019). Additionally, the result extends Seattle’s unbeaten run to 14 games against San Jose (8-0-6), dating back to 2015.
Cristian Roldan scored the game’s only goal in the 18th minute with his first strike of the season and the 23rd of his career. The play began with Xavier Arreaga threading a dangerous through ball up the left flank to a charging Nouhou, who sent in a cross near the touchline. San Jose’s misclearance fell to Roldan, who sent a left-footed rocket from 25 yards out into the top corner of the net.
Unfortunately, the match was also marred by injury, as both starting defender Jordy Delem and goalkeeper Stefan Frei were forced to depart prematurely. Delem exited the match in just the ninth minute due to an apparent right knee injury, while Stefan Frei suffered a knock of his own in second-half stoppage time. Wingback Alex Roldan stepped up in Frei’s absence, with Seattle unable to make a substitution. The Seattle University product produced a clutch performance, making a number of plays in goal to see out the result in an extended period of stoppage time. It marked just the 12th time in MLS history that a field player was forced to play in goal, and the first such occasion in Sounders FC history.
Seattle returns home this weekend to play its third match in eight days, facing off with Western Conference rival LAFC on Sunday, May 16 at Lumen Field (6:30 p.m. PT / FS1, 950 KJR AM, El Rey 1360 AM). The two sides have already met this season, playing to a 1-1 draw on April 24 at Banc of California Stadium.
- Following the win, Seattle remains both top of the Supporters’ Shield and top of the MLS Western Conference (both by four points). Sounders FC also has scored more goals (11) than any other team in the league, and has the best goal difference (+9).
- Sounders FC Head Coach Brian Schmetzer altered his formation for the first time in 2021, changing from the club’s recent 3-5-2 look into a 3-4-3 shape. Four personnel changes were made to the starting group from May 9 in Portland, with both Danny Levya and Ethan Dobbelaere getting their first starts of the season. Jordy Delem started the match at left centerback before exiting in the ninth minute due to injury, while Xavier Arreaga came back into the starting group for Shane O’Neill.
- Alex Roldan’s late-match heroics were notable for two reasons: never before in Sounders FC history had a field player been forced to step into goal, and it marked just the 12th occasion in league history that such an event occurred. Roldan stepped into goal for the injured Stefan Frei, who departed the contest due to injury in second-half stoppage time. Seattle was unable to make a substitution.
- With Danny Leyva and Ethan Dobbelaere both in the starting lineup tonight, Sounders FC started two teenagers for the first time in the club’s MLS history. Both are 18 years of age and came through the club’s Academy system as Homegrown Players. Since 2009, Seattle has now started eight teenagers in league play. In addition to Leyva and Dobbelaere, that list of players includes Josh Atencio, Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez, Cristian Roldan, Nouhou, DeAndre Yedlin and Miguel Montaño.
- In MLS regular season play, Seattle moves to 14-10-8 all-time against San Jose, bringing the club’s road record to 4-5-5 in Northern California.
- Per the Elias Sports Bureau, tonight’s result in San Jose now ties a club record for the longest unbeaten streak versus a single opponent in Sounders FC history. Seattle has not lost to the Quakes in 14 matches (8-0-6), equaling the 14-match unbeaten run the Rave Green once held against Chivas USA (10-0-4). This current streak against the Quakes is also tied for fourth-longest in MLS history.
- With his volleyed strike in the 18th minute of play, Cristian Roldan bagged his 23rd regular-season goal. Since joining the Rave Green in 2015, Roldan has been a mainstay in the club’s midfield, playing in 178 matches (161 starts).
- Wednesday night’s contest was the first of the season on regional television (JOEtv) and streaming (Prime Video) for Sounders FC. All of the club’s previous four matches in 2021 had been on national television. The club returns national TV this weekend, as the Rave Green host LAFC on Sunday, May 16 (6:30 p.m. PT / FS1). The club remains on FOX’s family of networks to close out the month of May, hosting Atlanta United on May 23 (FOX) and Austin FC on May 30 (FS1).
Seattle Sounders FC 1 – San Jose Earthquakes 0
Wednesday, May 12, 2021
Venue: PayPal Park
Referee: Baldomero Toledo
Assistants: Jeffrey Greeson, Jeffrey Swartzel
Fourth Official: Victor Rivas
VAR: Kevin Stott
Weather: 70 and sunny
SEA – Cristian Roldan 18’
SEA – Raúl Ruidíaz (caution) 39’
SJ – Chris Wondolowski (caution) 73’
SEA – Stefan Frei (caution) 78’
SJ – Luciano Abecasis (caution) 80’
LINEUPS & STATS
Seattle Sounders FC – Stefan Frei; Yeimar, Xavier Arreaga, Jordy Delem (Shane O’Neill 9’); Alex Roldan, Danny Leyva (João Paulo 60’), Cristian Roldan, Nouhou; Ethan Dobbelaere (Fredy Montero 46’), Raúl Ruidíaz, Kelyn Rowe (Brad Smith 83’)
Substitutes not used: Spencer Richey, Reed Baker-Whiting, Will Bruin
Total shots: 17
Shots on goal: 1
San Jose Earthquakes – JT Marcinkowski; Tommy Thompson (Shea Salinas 58’), Florian Jungwirth, Tanner Beason, Marcos Lopez (Luciano Abecasis 69’); Jackson Yueill, Eric Remedi, Crtistian Espinoza, Eduardo Lopez (Chris Wondolowski 65’), Carlos Fierro; Cade Cowell (Andres Rios 65’)
Substitutes not used: Daniel Vega, Paul Marie, Jack Skahan, Benji Kikanovic, Judson
Total shots: 15
Shots on goal: 6