New on Sports Illustrated: Earthquakes-Sounders Preview

September 10, 2020 at 06:59AM

Trying to bounce back from an off performance, the Seattle Sounders are looking to avoid a third consecutive match without a victory Thursday night when they host the San Jose Earthquakes.

Seattle (4-2-3) came back from MLS Is Back looking like world-beaters with impressive wins over tournament champion Portland and reigning conference champion Los Angeles FC. But the Sounders have not built on those performances, drawing 2-2 at Real Salt Lake and losing 2-1 at home to the Timbers on Monday.

Kelvin Leerdam accounted for Seattle's goal late in the first half, and the Sounders were seven minutes from taking a point before conceded late. Across the board, coaches and players did not think the team played poorly, but instead just had breakdowns and some bad luck.

Coach Brian Schmetzer admitted the goals were "not our best defensive moments of the season," to the team's official website while midfielder Cristian Rolden noted offensively, "It was just one of those nights where it just doesn't go in. We all have those nights, but we should not have lost the game even if we miss those opportunities."

Jordan Morris and Raul Ruidiaz share the team lead with five goals, and the pair have accounted for 10 of Seattle's 16 regular-season goals. Even with giving up four goals in the last two matches, the Sounders have yielded just nine goals – trailing only FC Dallas in the West.

The Earthquakes (2-3-3) are last in the conference, trailing Colorado on goal difference, and have not won a regular-season contest since capping group play at MLS Is Back with back-to-back wins. San Jose did pick up its first point in those three matches, drawing Colorado 1-1 on Saturday.

Chris Wondolowski extended his all-time MLS goal-scoring count to 162 with a penalty in the 59th minute, but like Seattle, conceding inside the final 10 minutes resulted in less points than desired.

"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," defender Florian Jungwirth told San Jose's official website. "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.

Given the squad rotations teams need as part of Phase One of the MLS schedule, it is unlikely the 37-year-old Wondolowski will start back-to-back matches. He does lead the team with three goals in just 199 minutes of play, and the one-time U.S. international has 11 goals in 25 career matches versus the Sounders.

The teams played a wide-open scoreless draw in group play in MLS Is Back in Orlando in July. Seattle is 5-0-6 in the last 11 regular-season meetings between the teams since a 2-0 victory by San Jose in 2015.

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