No Dempsey? No Alonso? No Morris?
Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan wasted no time in reminding the visiting San Jose Earthquakes who the defending MLS Cup champions are, scoring the two quickest goals by one player in the club’s history and elevating his team above the .500 mark for the first time this season.
The scoring has been coming in bunches for Seattle lately — the club have tallied seven goals in their past two games, all while missing several of the club’s top offensive stars. That, again, has been a heavy product of the aforementioned Roldan’s output. He’s now scored three goals in two games since returning from international duty. The time he spent conditioning and training at the international level has allowed him to return to MLS with a renewed spirit, Roldan said after the 3-0 victory.
“Obviously, the international level is a little bit faster,’’ Roldan told The Seattle Times. “You have to think. You have to take a better first touch. And you know, maybe in the early part of the season I wasn’t able to play as a ‘No. 10’ (scoring threat) because the play is so much faster and attacking-wise you’re always on the hot seat.
“Now that maybe it’s slowed down a little bit, I was able to step in there and play my part.’’
Roldan’s first goal was delivered in the 54th minute, a header that was assisted from Gustav Svensson. Before the fans finished celebrating that goal, he struck again.
Kelvin Leerdam added the game’s final goal from close range in the 65th minute.
“Roldan has been getting in good form and rolling with it, that’s for darn sure,” Earthquakes head coach Chris Leitch told The Mercury News after the loss. “I thought we had some good movement, for sure, tonight but (were) just missing that final piece – that final play – to come off and put one in the back of the net.”
Adding insult to injury for the Quakes in the defeat is the fact their hopes of closing-in on playoff position will have to wait a few more games — entering Sunday’s 3-0 defeat, San Jose were just one point off Seattle for the Western Conference’s sixth and final playoff spot.
The Quakes edged out Seattle in the shot category during the first half, and had a hefty advantage in terms of possession (65 percent). But that’s as far as the Quakes could execute their plan of attack for Sunday’s game. Wednesday’s 5-1 loss to the New York Red Bulls was still fresh in the minds of the players, it was meant to be used as fuel for Sunday’s contest.
“Coming into this game we wanted to be aggressive and I think we did that the first half,” Shea Salinas said afterward. “The frustrating part about this game is the first 15 minutes of that second half. Roldan played well, he had some good finishes there. Besides that 15-minute spell, it was a pretty even game.”
With the win, the Sounders retained the Heritage Cup. The club maintains a 5-4 advantage over San Jose in the series and have never been defeated on home field.