“The difference is they made their chances and we did not.”
Matias Almeyda was concise in explaining what happened as his San Jose Earthquakes lost their regular season finale Sunday, 4-1 to the Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink Field. The teams were scoreless at the halftime break, but two goals in three minutes from Seattle broke the game open, and the Earthquakes could not keep pace with their opponent on the night.
Almeyda, speaking to reporters after the game, admitted that while the Earthquakes wanted to pick up a win in Seattle, with a playoff berth already wrapped up before the game, they could afford to have an off night.
“There’s a reality also that we’re a team with many youngsters, and it was better to make mistakes this game, to be able to see the reality and prepare for this final that we’re going to play the following game in the playoffs,” Almeyda explained via translator.
Now, attention turns to the playoffs, and an upcoming matchup against Sporting Kansas City. But first, rest.
“First and foremost, we’re going to give two days to rest,” Almeyda said. “Since the season has [restarted] the players have pretty much not rested. It’s about enjoying up until Wednesday what we achieved, making the playoffs, recuperate and then focus on the upcoming game, 90 minutes, which is a final.”
For utilityman Tommy Thompson, the chance to get a break is welcome.
“It’s been a long year,” he told reporters in the postgame press conference. “It’s been a lot of different obstacles that we’ve faced, and playing a lot of games in quick succession is tough on every team in MLS. But right now we have an opportunity to rest up a little bit ... It’s an opportunity to recharge but as the gameday gets closer and closer, I’m sure we’re going to be bringing in as much energy as we possibly can.”
Thompson, who came off the bench in the second half and has mostly been used as a substitute during the Quakes’ surge up the table to turn their season around, said he’s willing to play anywhere he’s asked and to put his best effort into helping San Jose win.
Taking on a Sporting side the Earthquakes haven’t actually played this year is going to be an unusual experience.
“It’s a little bit strange, matching up with a team in the Western Conference playoffs without playing them once all year,” Thompson said. “But this year’s presented all kinds of obstacles that we’ve had to overcome, so I’m sure Matias and the rest of the staff will do a great job of preparing video for Kansas City, like we always do for every team. And by the time kickoff starts, we’re going to know their players, we’re going to know what we need to do to get the result, so that’s what we’re going to be focusing on. We’re really looking forward to being back in the playoffs.”
So while the loss on the night was certainly not welcomed by the Earthquakes, they’re ready to turn the page and gear up for the playoffs.
“It was a disappointing loss for us. We came here expecting to win, to keep our momentum going into the playoffs. But we have to have a short memory here, forget about this and focus on the big game against Kansas City in a couple weeks,” said Thompson.
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