Sounders Face Biggest Test Yet In Earthquakes

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by Sportspress Northwest Staff

SportsPressNorthwest

Posted on September 23, 2012 at 7:30 AM

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.
SOUNDERS (MLS) LEADERS

CategorySkinny
StartsAlonso 24, Evans 23, Parke 23
GoalsJohnson 13, Montero 12, Estrada 5
AssistsRosales 13, Montero 6, Caskey 4
ShotsMontero 103, Johnson 63, Alonso 29
Shots On GoalMontero 38, Johnson 22, Evans 11
Fouls CausedMontero 54, Johnson 34, Alonso 32
Fouls SufferedMontero 58, Johnson 43, Alonso 40
OffsidesJohnson 32, Montero 18, Estrada 6
Corner KicksRosales 63, Fernandez 16, Caskey 15
CautionsAlonso 6, Johnson 6, Montero 5
EjectionsHurtado 1, Fernandez 1, Montero 1
COACHES: Sigi Schmidbecame first head coach of Seattle Sounders FC Dec. 16, 2008, and is in his fourth year. Born in Tübingen, Germany, Schmid relocated with his family to the U.S. in 1956, and to Torrance, CA., in 1962. He was a four-year starter at UCLA (1972-75) and graduated with a B.S. degree in economics in 1976.Schmid later earned a M.A. in business administration from Southern California. A certified public accountant, Schmid coached the Los Angeles Galaxy from 1999 through 2004, winning four major competitions: 2002 MLS Cup, 2002 MLS Supporters’ Shield, 2001 U.S. Open Cup and the 2001 CONCACAF Champions Cup. He coached the Columbus Crew from 2006-08, winning the MLS Cup in his final season.In 2009, under Schmid's direction, the Sounders became the first expansion team to reach the MLS playoffs since the 1998 Chicago Fire. The Sounders also won the U.S. Open Cup in Schmid's first season. They added their second and third U.S. Open Cup titles in 2010 and 2011.Frank Yallop: Yallop is in his eighth year as head coach of the Earthquakes, and last took the team to the playoffs in 2010. Under Yallop’s guidance, the Quakes made a successful return to MLS in 2008 as the top expansion team of the last decade. The Quakes had more wins (8) and points (33), scored more goals (32) and allowed fewer goals (38) than any expansion team since 1998. The team also posted a nine-game unbeaten streak from July 12-Sept. 27, which was the longest in the league in 2008 and the second-longest ever by an expansion team. Yallop’s tenure is his second stint. He also coached the Quakes from 2001-03 before serving as the head coach of the Canadian men’s national team from 2004-06 and the Los Angeles Galaxy from 2006-07.COMING UP: Sounders play consecutive Cascadia Cup matches at Vancouver (Aug. 29) and vs. Portland (Sept. 7).Seattle Sounders FC 2012 Schedule / Results(13-6-9, 48 points, MLS; 2-0 CCL; 4-1 U.S. Open Cup)

DateOpponentTimeTVW/LScoreRec.
3/7*Santos7:00Fox SoccerW2-11-0
3/14*Santos5:00Fox SoccerL6-11-1
3/17^Toronto FC7:00KONGW3-11-0
3/23^Houston7:00NBCSNW2-02-0
3/31^San Jose7:00KONGL1-02-1
4/7^at DC United4:30KINGD0-02-1-1
4/14^Colorado1:00KINGW1-03-1-1
4/28^at Chicago5:30KINGW2-14-1-1
5/2^LA Galaxy7:00KINGW2-05-1-1
5/5^Philadelphia1:30NBCSNW1-06-1-1
5/9^at FC Dallas5:30KONGW2-07-1-1
5/12^Real SL7:00KONGL1-07-2-1
5/19^at Vancouver1:00KINGD2-27-2-2
5/23^Columbus7:00KONGL2-07-2-3
5/26^at Chivas7:30KONGD1-17-3-3
5/30&Atlanta7:30WebcastW5-11-0-0
6/5&Cal FC7:30WebcastW5-02-0-0
6/16^at Montreal4:30KINGL4-17-4-3
6/20^Sport KC7:00KINGD1-17-4-4
6/24^at Portland2:00ESPNL2-17-5-4
6/26&at San Jose7:30WebcastW1-03-0-0
6/30^at New England4:30KONGD2-27-5-5
7/4^at RSL7:00KONGD0-07-5-6
7/7^Colorado8:00NBCSNW2-18-5-6
7/11&vs. Chivas8:00WebW4-14-0-0
7/15^at New York1:00ESPND2-28-5-7
7/18#Chelsea FC6:30ESPN2L4-20-1-0
7/28^at Colorado6:00KINGW2-19-5-7
8/2*vs. Caledonia7:00FOXW3-13-1
8/5^vs. LA Galaxy6:00ESPN2W4-010-5-7
8/8&at Sport KC6:00GolTVL2-14-1
8/11^at San Jose7:30KONGL2-110-6-7
8/18^vs. Vancouver1:00KINGW2-011-6-7
8/25^at Chivas7:30KINGW6-212-6-7
8/30*at Caledonia5:00FOXW3-12-0-0
9/2^at FC Dallas4:00KINGD1-112-6-8
9/8^ChivasTBDKONGW2-113-6-8
9/15^at Portland12:30NBCD1-113-6-9
9/19*at Marathon7:00FOXW3-23-0-0
9/22^San Jose7:30KONG---------
9/29^at Vancouver6:00NBCSN---------
10/7^vs. Portland6:00ESPN---------
10/21^vs. FC Dallas6:00ESPN---------
10/24*vs. Marathon7:00None---------
10/28^at LA Galaxy6:00ESPN---------
*=CONCACAF; ^=Major League Soccer; #=International friendly; &=U.S. Open Cup

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