On the heels of Saturday night’s 2-2 draw between the San Jose Earthquakes and the Seattle Sounder FC, the second team players got their chance to do battle in an MLS Reserve League match at the Nutrilite Training Facility adjacent to the new stadium site. With just minutes to go in the match that appeared destined to finish in a scoreless draw, a brilliant individual effort from Sounders rookie Michael Tetteh resulted in an 87th minute goal that gave the visitors a 1-0 victory. The Earthquakes drop to 1-1-0 in Reserve League play while the Sounders earned a win in their first match of the season.
San Jose had difficulty throughout the match keeping possession in a manner consistent with the tactics the team as a whole has been working on since the early days of the preseason. The early loss of Anthony Ampaipitakwong after a hard challenge from a Seattle defender did little to help the Quakes, as they couldn’t find a replacement with the understanding Ampai brings to the offense. Having additional players that were expected to start for the day’s gaffer, Earthquakes assistant coach Ian Russell, relegated to the bench also did not help matters. Khari Stephenson, Ellis McLoughlin, and Scott Sealy were all late scratches for Russell’s side, forcing him to start with a number or trailists and academy players on the field and the bench.
The thought the guys that played did well today,” said Russell after the game. “It was also great that we had the opportunity to give the academy guys a chance to play. I thought it was a pretty even game at times with some good chances on both sides. For us, it was most important to get guys minutes to evaluate them and also a chance to play some good soccer.”
With Seattle being more the aggressor from the opening whistle, the man busiest for the Earthquakes in the early going was goalkeeper Andrew Weber. In just the third minute he was pressed into action to push a headed corner kick around the post and prevent the Sounders from grabbing the early lead. Supported by the centerback tandem of Ike Opara and Bobby Burling, Weber was encouraged with the overall play of the back line.
“It’s great to have those two guys back there; they’re both giants in the air and also getting better and better with their experiences in the first team. All the backs did well today, especially Steve (Beitashour) on the right. But, it’s very comforting to know you have those two guys in front of you sweeping things up.”
Coach Russell also singled out the second year defender Beitashour as a having a good game, and one who was taking full advantage of the opportunities that MLS wanted to promote through the return of the Reserve League after a three year absence.
“We take these games seriously, especially as a chance to see how the guys do against good competition,” explained Russell. “Steven (Beitashour) did really well for us today, and if Letich or Ward goes down, we won’t be uncomfortable putting him out there in the line-up.”
Andrew Weber, the Earthquakes man of the match despite letting in the winning goal by Seattle, was encouraged by some of what he saw on the afternoon, especially with some unfamiliar faces wearing Quakes white.
“I thought we really kept fighting and did a nice job of keeping our shape defensively,” said Weber. “There were times when didn’t move the ball quickly enough in possession, and it hurt us when Ampai went off, especially since he is a big part of our offense. But we’ll take this as a learning experience and hopefully make the changes we need to be better for the next game.”
Leading up to the goal from Tetteh, Weber had saved seven shots on target from the Sounders — thrice with spectacular diving saves. Unfortunately, the dizzying run from Tetteh who carved his way through the Earthquakes defense before unleashing a low shot to the far post through the legs of trailist David Frank, was not one of them. Weber admitted after the match that he just didn’t get a good look at the shot from Tetteh.
“I was screened on the shot (the Seattle goal) by Brad (Ring) coming across,” said Weber. “It went under David’s (Frank) legs so I didn’t see it till late. It curled away from me and hit the side netting, so my hat is off to (Tetteh) on that goal.”
The Earthquakes, with just one shot on goal in the entire game, could not find an equalizer over the final three minutes, and dropped their first reserve league match of the season.
Scoring Summary: SEA — Michael Tetteh 1 (unassisted) 87.
Misconduct Summary: SEA — Roger Levesque (Caution; Persistent Infringement) 39; SEA — John Kennedy Hurtado (Caution; Game Disrepute) 52; SJ — Matt Luzunaris (Caution; Game Disrepute) 52; SJ — Bobby Burling (Caution, Hard Challenge) 78; SEA — David Estrada (Caution; Intentional Handling) 88.
San Jose Earthquakes — Andrew Weber, Steven Beitashour, Ike Opara (James Callahan 64), Bobby Burling, Justin Morrow, Brad Ring, Anthony Ampaipitakwong (David Frank 30), Rafael Baca, Matt Luzunaris, Yuri Morales (Nick Lima 73), Jesus Padilla.
Statistics: Shots: 11; Shots on Goal: 1; Fouls: 12; Offsides: 0; Corner Kicks: 3; Saves: Weber 7.
Seattle Sounders FC — Terry Boss, Roger Levesque, John Kennedy Hurtado, Tyson Wahl, Zach Scott, Lamar Neagle (Pat Noonan 80), Servando Carrasco, Mike Seamon, Miguel Montano (Michael Tetteh 62), Nate Jaqua (Taylor Graham 55), David Estrada.
Statistics: Shots: 13; Shots on Goal: 8; Fouls: 19; Offsides: 6; Corners: 4; Saves: Boss 1.