After Obafemi Martins opened the scoring with a remarkable goal in the 8th minute, the Seattle Sounders cruised to a 1-0 victory against the visiting San Jose Earthquakes at CenturyLink Field in front of a crowd of 49,746.
"Obviously, we're disappointed to lose," said head coach Mark Watson. "I was proud of our guys tonight. I thought they performed pretty well. We were chasing the game from pretty early on after a wonder goal, but I saw a lot of positives in the performance. As a team, we hadn't played together and were up against a very good Seattle side. It was disappointing to lose, but I thought our team played quite well overall."
The Quakes could be forgiven, somewhat, as injuries, suspensions, and international duty call-ups left the team with only 16 healthy players. Billy Schuler made his MLS debut for San Jose, and Jordan Stewart moved to center back for the first time in his MLS stay. In all, the Earthquakes made seven changes to the Starting XI that had earned a 2-1 victory against FC Dallas the week before.
"It gives other guys opportunities," continued Watson. "We have a bunch of players away, suspended and injured, and it gives guys opportunities to get a chance to show what they can do. There were some good performances tonight."
Though not quite as closely matched as the score would suggest, the teams played a more defensive style on both sides of the ball. For Seattle, stung by a 5-0 defeat at New England last weekend, the focus was on keeping the Quakes quiet on the wings, thus choking off the visitors preferred avenue of attack. For San Jose, featuring a line-up that lacked much in the way of cohesive play, keeping the game close was the hope, perhaps allowing the team to steal a point with a late set piece.
In the end, both teams played to their game plans, and the result was justified. That the final score was not more in Seattle's favor was due to the heroic play of goalkeeper Jon Busch, who made two fantastic saves in the second half to keep the deficit at one goal.
"Jon was good tonight," concluded Watson. "He's been good for us for a long time so I wasn't surprised. Once again, he made some really crucial saves that kept us in the game. It came down to the last minute where we could've gotten something out of the game, and that was due to his saves and keeping it one-nil."
The Earthquakes will have a week to recover from their Seattle visit, as the team heads home to prepare for the Sunday arrival of the Houston Dynamo. How the undermanned Quakes respond in training this week will go a long way to determining just how effective the team can be against the Dynamo.
San Jose Earthquakes (2-4-4, 10 pts.) 0:1 Seattle Sounders FC (8-3-1, 25 pts.)
May 17, 2014 - CenturyLink Field
Scoring Summary: SEA - Obafemi Martins (Gonzalo Pineda, Marco Pappa) 8.
Misconduct Summary: SEA - Gonzalo Pineda (caution) 90.
San Jose Earthquakes: Jon Busch, Brandon Barklage, Ty Harden, Jordan Stewart, Shaun Francis, Cordell Cato (Sam Garza 80), Jean-Baptiste Pierazzi (JJ Koval 88), Khari Stephenson, Sam Cronin, Billy Schuler (Mike Fucito 75), Atiba Harris.
Statistics - Shots: 8; Shots on Goal: 1; Saves: 4; Fouls: 4; Corner Kicks: 2; Offside: 2.
Seattle Sounders FC - Stefan Frei, Jalil Anibaba, Chad Marshall, Zach Scott, Leo Gonzalez, Lamar Neagle (Andy Rose 90+1), Gonzalo Pineda, Osvaldo Alonso, Marco Pappa (Dylan Remick 87), Obafemi Martins, Kenny Cooper (Chad Barrett 70).
Statistics - Shots: 16; Shots on Goal: 5; Saves: 1; Fouls: 7; Corner Kicks: 6; Offside: 2