Sounders-Earthquakes Preview

The San Jose Earthquakes won all three league meetings with the

Seattle Sounders last year, with one coming in typical dramatic

fashion.

They’ll have to overcome a pair of key defensive absences if

they’re going to continue that success against the visiting

Sounders on Saturday night.

San Jose (1-1-1) is 5-2-1 in its last eight meetings with

Seattle (0-1-1), winning all three matchups last season with one

coming in stunning fashion at Buck Shaw Stadium on Aug. 11.

The Earthquakes gave up the tying goal two minutes into stoppage

time, but Steven Lenhart came to the rescue a minute later to

clinch a 2-1 win.

Those dramatics continue to be commonplace for San Jose, which

scored 40 of its league-leading 72 goals last year from the 60th

minute on.

All three of the club’s goals this season fall into that

category, including Justin Morrow’s 73rd-minute tally to rally the

Quakes to a 1-1 draw at Columbus last Saturday.

Morrow isn’t available to build on his heroics this weekend

since he’s with the United States national team for World Cup

qualifying, while fellow starting defender Victor Bernardez is with

Honduras.

That likely means Nana Attakora will make his season debut in

central defense while veterans Ty Harden and Dan Gargan are options

to fill in for Morrow on the left.

“This is going to give opportunities to other players,”

goalkeeper Jon Busch said. “That’s why Frank and (general manager

John Doyle) built this team deep and picked Nana up, and picked Ty

up and picked Dan up. It’s another test for us, to see where our

depth is.”

Another strong effort from Chris Wondolowski would also help.

The forward has five goals in eight career games against Seattle,

getting two last year on his way to tying the MLS single-season

record of 27. However, he’s found the net just once so far this

season, and came up empty on four shots – two on goal – last

weekend.

The Sounders are dealing with absences of their own as forward

Eddie Johnson is with Morrow on the U.S. team, while midfielder

Mario Martinez has joined Bernardez. Forward Obafemi Martins,

acquired last week after a stint with Levante in Spain, has joined

Nigeria for its World Cup qualifying matches.

Johnson has Seattle’s only goal of the season, scoring in a 1-1

draw at home with Portland last Saturday.

With Johnson and Martins gone, David Estrada seems to be in line

for his season debut. He had five goals in 20 games – 12 starts –

last year, but he scored only once in his last 18 appearances after

getting four in his first two games.

“He’s hungry,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “That’s never an issue

with David. It’s about being smart. He’s the kind of guy that you

have to lock into his locker to make sure he doesn’t

over-train.”

The Sounders are on the road for the first time after going

5-9-5 last year, winning once in the past six games (1-2-3).

“Sometimes going on the road is good early in the season because

it’s a reminder that you’re in the season. It gets you into that

routine again,” Schmid told the team’s official website.