May 18, 2014, 1:17 AM EDT
An early, jaw-dropping goal relegated San Jose to a 1-0 loss in Seattle, but considering the myriad of absences the Earthquakes carried into Seattle, this may have been the best result Mark Watson could have reasonably expected. Both Víctor Bernárdez and Clarence Goodson were gone from the defense, while the team’s attack was missing all of Chris Wondolowski, Alan Gordon, Steven Lenhart, Yannick Djaló and Shea Salinas. In that light, a one-goal loss at one of the league’s best (albeit Clint Dempsey-less) team almost seems like a fortunate result.
(San Jose’s XI: Jon Busch; Brandon Barklage, Ty Harden, Jordan Stewart, Shaun Francis; Cordell Cato, Jean Baptiste Pierazzi, Khari Stephenson, Sam Cronin; Billy Schuler, Atiba Harris)
Where it not for Jon Busch, it would have been much worse. The San Jose keeper, who drew national attention last week with his performance against Colorado, had another good night, victimizing Lamar Neagle, Alonso, and Chad Barrett. Nobody would have faulted the oft-overlooked keeper for conceding a second goal.
But almost all of Seattle’s chances were isolated, often from distance. Had the Sounders not gone up in the eighth minute, perhaps there would have been a greater desire to extend their lead, but up against an opponent that could put a shot on target until the 91st minute (and that one was from 35 yards), Seattle was never pushed expend its reserves. Coming off a devastating day last week in New England, the Sounders were given 90 minutes of assurances by a depleted San Jose.
Because of that depletion, the Earthquakes shouldn’t take too much out of Saturday’s game, though as the number in their games played column continues to increase, Watson’s worry has to grow. While the Earthquakes have shown they can be a competitive, even resourceful team, they’ve yet to show they’re capable of keeping a team like the Vancouver Whitecaps out of the playoffs. If Portland, Dallas, and Colorado’s struggles continue, that may not matter, but if any of those teams start to recapture their form, San Jose will need to find another level. Each 90 minutes without a solution is 90 minutes slower to another season outside of the playoffs.
At the same time, Seattle didn’t get many answers, either; not that games like tonight’s could quell their concerns. The Sounders’ problems, on display last week in Foxborough, can’t be solved by a convincing performance against an average team.
In light of that lopsided result, the best they could hope for transpired at CenturyLink. The Sounders got back in the win column.
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