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
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
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
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
“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