On Thursday, the San Jose Earthquakes will pack their bags and travel to Seattle for a matchup with Sounders FC.
Let’s first take a quick look back at Saturday’s home match before focusing our attention to Thursday. The good: The Quakes snapped a two-match losing streak by earning a point vs. the Rapids. The bad: San Jose held a late lead that was swiped away on a set-piece header by veteran Kei Kamara.
Defender Florian Jungwirth explained after the match that while the result was not the win the team wanted, there were some positives to take away:
“I think today we saw some sparks. Of course, the fans and everyone wanted the win, but I think when you get slapped like we did on Wednesday against LAFC, you don't have a lot of confidence. We found our way back playing as unit and keeping a fighting spirit. That's what we have to do. We still have to find our movement. We lost Magnus [Eriksson] now. He's also a player that's really hard to replace. He was our most important player, and that takes a while obviously.”
San Jose heads into the Pacific Northwest with a little positive momentum stemming from Saturday. Head coach Matias Almeyda has pointed out the team’s challenges since returning from Orlando, including oppressive heat, erratic training schedules and unhealthy air quality.
“Little by little, the team is picking up the rhythm again,” Almeyda said last weekend.
Almeyda has shown a desire to create balance and trust in his players. Players are encouraged to be creative, aggressive and assertive, without fear of immediate consequences stemming from a mistake or misstep. However, the Argentine manager has also made it be known that individual performance in 2020 will go a long way towards his roster decisions come 2021.
With that being said, Almeyda is spreading around playing opportunities to take a full view of his team and keep the side fresh through this two-matches-per-week slate of scheduling. Last match vs. Colorado saw six changes to the starting XI from the team that faced LAFC, with three players making their first starts of 2020.
Seattle is Seattle. They are a team that has been unrelenting since joining MLS in 2009, never failing to miss the postseason and appearing in each of the last three MLS Cups, winning two.
Forwards Jordan Morris and Raul Ruidiaz lead a potent attack with five goals apiece, with Nicolas Lodeiro pulling the strings in the midfield. Defensively, the club is anchored by one of the league’s all-time greats in goal, Stefan Frei, a Cal grad.
Seattle won each of their first two matches after returning from Orlando, defeating Portland and LAFC by a combined score of 6-1. Since, Sounders FC has tied Real Salt Lake on the road (2-2) and fallen to the Timbers at home (2-1).
Thursday’s match is not the first time that San Jose and Seattle will face off this year. The two teams met in the first game of the Group Stage in Orlando, finishing in a scoreless draw despite the Quakes holding more than 62% possession and winning 9x as many corner kicks.<
The match, presented by Estrella Jalisco, kicks off a 7 p.m. PT and will be broadcast live on NBC Sports California, KNBR 1050 and 1370 KZSF.