MATCH: San Jose Earthquakes(17-6-6, 57 points, 1st, MLS West) at Seattle Sounders FC (13-6-9, 48 points, 2nd, MLS West). TYPE: MLS. WHEN: Saturday, 7:30 p.m., CenturyLink Field. MEETING: 10th (series tied 4-4-1). LAST 10: Sounders 6-1-3; Earthquakes 6-2-2. TV: KONG. RADIO: 97.3 KIRO FM; SPANISH: KOMO2 (Comcast Ch. 114) and La Gran D 99.3 FM.
With a six-point swing at stake, the Sounders play their most significant match of the season when they host the first-place San Jose Earthquakes. A victory would slice San Jose's lead to six points with five league matches remaining, but a loss would make it virtually impossible for the Sounders to win the conference title.
“I think for us to make any run at Supporters Shield we need to win this game on Saturday,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said. “More than anything, it’s a good measuring stick for us; a measuring stick for them as well. It should be a great game for the fans and for the league.”
The teams have met three times this season, twice in league play and once in the U.S. Open Cup. Seattle lost the league matches, 1-0 and 2-1, and defeated the Quakes 1-0 in Cup play.
San Jose has been the top MLS team almost all season, mainly because the Earthquakes have scored league-high 60 goals, including 18 in the final 15 minutes.
The match will feature two of the league's top three goal scorers in San Jose's Chris Wondolowski and Seattle's Fredy Montero. Since joining MLS in 2009, Montero's 46 goals rank third and Wondolowski's 58 tallies are first. While the Sounders are 3-2-0 all-time against the Quakes at CenturyLink Field, Seattle will be missing its leading scorer, Eddie Johnson, serving a one-game suspension for yellow-card accumulation.
The Sounders, coming off a 3-2 win over CD Marathon in Champions League play Wednesday in Honduras, have lost once in their past 12 league outings dating to June 30. Seattle has gone 6-1-5 in that span, outscoring foes 25-13. Seattle has scored multiple goals in eight of its past 12 for an average of just over two goals per 90 minutes. This ranks as the best stretch of the season
The Earthquakes' 60 goals is 10 more than any other club and a plus-25 goal differential is also 10 more than any other club. It is the only team in MLS that averages more than two goals per game.
The Quakes also lead MLS with 60 assists and are second in shots (425), shots on goal (153), and corner kicks (153). San Jose is especially tough in the second half, averaging 1.29 goals in the last 45 minutes (first in MLS), including 18 goals scored in the final 15 minutes (first in MLS). The Quakes also have the league's best winning percentage at .500 (4-4-4) when conceding the first goal.
Wondolowski, 29, leads the Golden Boot race with 19 goals and has added seven assists, most recently netting a goal and assist in a 2-0 win at Chivas USA Saturday. Wondolowski isn't San Jose's only scoring option. Alan Gordon ranks sixth with 12 goals and leads the league with 1.06 goals per 90 minutes.
Steven Lenhart, who scored the stoppage-time winner against Seattle the last time the clubs met, has eight goals. Goalkeeper Jon Busch leads MLS with 15 wins, is second with a .700 winning percentage (15-5-5), and is tied for fifth with a 1.18 goals against average.
SOUNDERS PROBABLE LINEUP: Goalkeeper -- Michael Gspurning. Defenders -- Adam Johansson, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez. Midfielders -- Andy Rose, Osvaldo Alonso, Christian Tiffert, Brad Evans. Forwards -- Fredy Montero, Sammy Ochoa.
EARTHQUAKES PROBABLE LINEUP: Goalkeeper -- Joe Busch. Defenders -- Justin Morrow, Ike Opara, Victor Bernardez, Steven Beitashour. Midfielders -- Ramiro Carrales, Rafael Baca, Sam Cronin, Mehdi Ballouchy. Forwards -- Steven Lenhart, Chris Wondolowski.
INJURIES (Sounders): Out -- FW Babayele Sodale (ACL tear), DF Andrew Duran (ACL surgery). Questionable -- GK Andrew Weber (abductor strain), F David Estrada (foot fracture). Probable -- MF Mauro Rosales (quad strain), Christian Tiffert (ankle sprain).
DISCIPLINARY SITUATION (Sounders): Eddie Johnson one-game suspension; Fredy Montero will be suspended after his next yellow card.
LAST MLS MATCH (Sounders, Sept. 8): With a goal from Montero, off a free kick by goalkeeper Michael Gspurning, the Sounders earned a 1-1 draw with the Portland Timbers at Jeld-Wen Field. With the tie, the Sounders kept the Cascadia Cup in their possession.
LAST VS. EARTHQUAKES (Aug. 11): Montero and Lenhart traded stoppage-time goals as Sounders fell 2-1 at Buck Shaw Stadium. All three goals were scored in the final 20 minutes as San Jose captured its fifth win or draw in stoppage time this season. The loss snapped Seattle's league-best six-game (3-0-3) unbeaten streak and it marked Seattle's first road loss since June 24.
SERIES: Dates to April 25, 2009, when the Sounders scored a 2-0 home win at on goals by Steve Zakuani and Brad Evans. The Sounders were unbeaten (2-0-1) in their past three with San Jose entering the 2012 season, but dropped a 1-0 decision March 31. Seattle came back to beat San Jose 1-0 June 26 in U.S. Open Cup play on a goal by Cordell Cato. The Earthquakes defeated Seattle 2-1 Aug. 11 in Santa Clara, CA. In MLS, Seattle holds a 4-3-1 advantage.
SOUNDERS STATS / NOTES
- SEASON SUMMARY: Overall: 13-6-9. Last 5: W-W-D-W-D. Home: 9-3-1. Road: 4-3-8. Vs. East: 4-1-4. Vs. West: 9-5-5. March: 2-1-0; April: 2-0-1; May: 3-2-2; June: 0-2-2; July: 2-0-2; August: 3-1-0; September: 1-0-2. Goals For: 44. Goals Against: 29. Differential: +15.
- MLS TEAM RANKS: Goals: 44 (4th). Goals Scored Avg.: 1.57 (5th). Goals Allowed Per Match: 1.04 (2nd). Shots: 359 (11th). Shots On Goal: 119 (15th). Fouls Committed: 361 (9th). Fouls Suffered: 371 (4th). Yellow Card Cautions: 44 (11th).
- Sounders are 6-0-1 when leading at the half, 7-2-7 when tied at the half and 0-4-1 when trailing at the half.
- Sounders 12-0-3 when scoring first and 1-6-4 when conceding first.
- Gspurning leads MLS with a 0.76 goals against average.
- Rosales leads MLS with 13 assists and five game-winning assists.
- Johnson is fourth in the Budweiser Golden Boot Race with 13 goals, and Montero is fifth with 12.
- Sounders have won their past four home MLS matches and are unbeaten in their past five (4-0-1) overall.
- Sounders are 6-3-4 all-time in the month of September, outscoring opponents 20-12.
- Seattle's current 29-game unbeaten streak (23-0-6) when scoring first is the second-longest active streak in MLS (New York, 55).
- Seattle's average attendance of 42,379 is on track to set the league record. The biggest attendance for an MLS game this season was 60,908 when the Sounders hosted the L.A. Galaxy at CenturyLink Field Aug. 5. The 2012 season attendance total is 550,930. Seattle's record from 2011 was 654,431.
|Starts||Alonso 24, Evans 23, Parke 23|
|Goals||Johnson 13, Montero 12, Estrada 5|
|Assists||Rosales 13, Montero 6, Caskey 4|
|Shots||Montero 103, Johnson 63, Alonso 29|
|Shots On Goal||Montero 38, Johnson 22, Evans 11|
|Fouls Caused||Montero 54, Johnson 34, Alonso 32|
|Fouls Suffered||Montero 58, Johnson 43, Alonso 40|
|Offsides||Johnson 32, Montero 18, Estrada 6|
|Corner Kicks||Rosales 63, Fernandez 16, Caskey 15|
|Cautions||Alonso 6, Johnson 6, Montero 5|
|Ejections||Hurtado 1, Fernandez 1, Montero 1|
|4/7||^at DC United||4:30||KING||D||0-0||2-1-1|
|5/9||^at FC Dallas||5:30||KONG||W||2-0||7-1-1|
|6/26||&at San Jose||7:30||Webcast||W||1-0||3-0-0|
|6/30||^at New England||4:30||KONG||D||2-2||7-5-5|
|7/15||^at New York||1:00||ESPN||D||2-2||8-5-7|
|8/5||^vs. LA Galaxy||6:00||ESPN2||W||4-0||10-5-7|
|8/8||&at Sport KC||6:00||GolTV||L||2-1||4-1|
|8/11||^at San Jose||7:30||KONG||L||2-1||10-6-7|
|9/2||^at FC Dallas||4:00||KING||D||1-1||12-6-8|
|10/21||^vs. FC Dallas||6:00||ESPN||---||---||---|
|10/28||^at LA Galaxy||6:00||ESPN||---||---||---|