Sounders-Earthquakes Preview

The Seattle Sounders have to put the disappointment of failing

to win another U.S. Open Cup behind them as they prepare for a

growing rival – the best team in MLS.

The Sounders will go on the road Saturday night to face the San

Jose Earthquakes after a post-game melee broke out the last time

these teams met.

Seattle (10-5-7) enters after losing on penalties in Wednesday’s

U.S. Open Cup final at Sporting Kansas City. The Sounders won the

tournament the previous three years before dropping this shootout

after the match ended 1-1.

“I think we had a good chance to get four in a row,” coach Sigi

Schmid said. “We missed our last three penalty kicks so that is

something that doesn’t help.”

Seattle is making its first trip to San Jose (13-5-5) since

winning 1-0 there on June 26 in an Open Cup quarterfinal

matchup.

Earthquakes forward Alan Gordon was ejected late in the game for

hitting Sounders defender Marc Burch in the back of the head. There

was also an altercation after the whistle between Seattle forward

Eddie Johnson and San Jose defender Jed Zayner, with allegations

that each punched the other as both teams converged near

midfield.

Gordon won’t be around for this one since he was also sent off

in San Jose’s last MLS match, a 1-1 tie with Chicago on July 28.

Coach Frank Yallop is also suspended Saturday since he was ejected

for flinging a water bottle onto the field during the game against

the Fire.

San Jose, which leads the league with 44 points, won 1-0 at

Seattle on March 31 in the lone MLS meeting this year between these

clubs. Chris Wondolowski’s penalty kick was the difference.

Wondolowski holds the league lead with 17 goals, but has gone a

season-high three straight games without one. The forward has been

tough to stop for the Sounders, who have seen him score four times

in his last five MLS matches against them.

San Jose will be well-rested considering it hasn’t played since

a 2-2 draw July 31 against English Premier League club Swansea

City. Substitute Steven Lenhart scored the game’s final two goals

in the last 10 minutes.

San Jose will have midfielder Mehdi Ballouchy available for a

league match for the first time. Ballouchy, acquired July 30 from

New York, played 62 minutes against Swansea City in his first

appearance with the Earthquakes.

The Sounders were disappointed with Wednesday’s result, which

cost them one chance at qualifying for the CONCACAF Champions

League next season. Another opportunity would be to win the

Supporters’ Shield, but they trail the Earthquakes by seven

points.

“Our focus has to be quickly back to league play and on our game

on Saturday versus San Jose,” defender Zach Scott said. “That is

the most important thing at this point.”

Seattle is 3-0-3 in its last six MLS games, winning 4-0 at home

over Los Angeles last Sunday. Midfielder Christian Tiffert, a

veteran from the German Bundesliga, made his Sounders debut in that

contest.