The two Western Conference squads square off.On Form
San Jose Earthquakes: Chris Wondolowski found his scoring boots once more in Dallas after struggling mightily in the season opener against Real Salt Lake. He punished Dallas for giving him entirely too much space with two excellent finishes, a crucial performance on a night when the Earthquakes were often out of possession. Jon Busch has been excellent in goal to kick off the season, while the rest of the back line, particularly the central defensive pairing of Jason Hernandez and Brandon McDonald, showed great understanding and awareness, even when faced with the likes of 2010 MLS MVP David Ferreira.
Seattle Sounders FC: Winger Steve Zakuani scored the Sounders’ first goal to help the struggling side earn their first point of the young season in the 1-1 draw against the Houston Dynamo. The tally ended Seattle’s three- match, 259 minute scoring drought. The Sounders also set a club record of 26 shots towards the Houston nets, seven of which were on target. Zakuani’s speed and elusive runs will surely test San Jose’s defenders whenever he’s in the box area.
San Jose: Ryan Johnson was not at his sharpest on Saturday night, and a few errant passes and touches in the target man role often undermined the Earthquakes' attempt to maintain some possession. While not particularly poor against Dallas, Ramiro Corrales looks like his age might finally be catching up with him. He made some good defensive plays, but often looking lost for pace against FC Dallas' fast wingers and full backs, especially when Colombian speedster Fabian Castillo came on as a substitute.
Seattle: So far this season, the Sounders’ 47 shots (18 on target) are the highest in MLS. The LA Galaxy are next with 32 shots (11 on target), but they’ve managed to notch three goals with far fewer opportunities. You have wonder why the finishing is so pathetic with chances in the double digits for each match.
Head coach Sigi Schmid mused out loud whether or not he had the right personnel on the pitch. With Nate Jaqua healing, the lanky forward may see more minutes that can only improve Seattle’s poor conversion rate of shots into goals.
San Jose: The Earthquakes have largely played well under Frank Yallop's 4-3-3/4-2-3-1 formation in the opening days, so there shouldn't be any fundamental tactical switches. Playing at home against a team that has struggled in the early weeks of MLS, the 'Quakes might open up a bit more, but will largely count on the same lineup that saw them through the first two games. With the lone forward playing a crucial role in the system, Yallop will surely want some improved performances from Ryan Johnson, who needs to improve his touch and distribution for the system to work perfectly. Steven Lenhart could make his return and fill that role in this match, but is listed as questionable and most likely won't start. Khari Stephenson will be back from international duty with Jamaica, but having played a midweek game, don't be surprised if Simon Dawkins starts in his place once again.
Seattle: In the Houston matchup, Schmid had Brad Evans start in place of Designated Player Alvaro Fernandez in the offensive midfielder slot. The change produced more opportunities, but the results were more of the same. Fredy Montero has been the offensive leader since the Sounders’ first season. Schmid has done everything possible to get his young Colombian striker untracked to notch his first goal. Changing the tactics and the 4-4-2 formation are fine, it’s the on-field execution that’s lacking.
San Jose: Chris Wondolowski has now scored the Earthquakes' last 12 regular season goals, dating back to 2010, an MLS record. The question for the Earthquakes is what happens if Wondolowski has an off night, as he did in the season opening loss to Salt Lake? One of the team's biggest offseason priorities was finding a scoring partner for Wondolowski, but so far the effort has yielded little reward (though that's in part thanks to Steven Lenhart's injury).
Seattle: Goalie Kasey Keller felt that after getting that first goal in the Houston matchup, the Rave Green had finally eradicated the scoring demons off their backs. This upcoming encounter against San Jose will determine whether or not the veteran ‘keeper is right.
Nick Rosano: The Earthquakes are confident, but come up against a strong Seattle midfield and a team hungry for a win. It will be a tough, chippy game, but San Jose will emerge 2-1 winners.
Fredy Montero | Seattle takes on San Jose
John Zielonka: The Sounders are lucky to walk away with a point. Montero finally scores one. Seattle Sounders FC 1 (Montero) - 1 San Jose Earthquakes (Wondolowski)
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