San Jose Earthquake Defense Bends But Does Not Break, Seattle Sounders Edged 1-0

Bill HareCorrespondent IMay 23, 2010

SEATTLE - MAY 22:  Chris Wondolowski #8 of the San Jose Earthquakes is congratulated by Ramiro Corrales #12 after scoring a goal in the first half against the Seattle Sounders FC on May 22, 2010 at Qwest Field in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

The San Jose Earthquakes have improved mightily this season through outstanding defense.  Today on the Xbox pitch of Qwest Field before 35,953 onlookers, the visitors scored once early in the contest and made the goal stand up for a 1-0 win over Seattle Sounders FC.

The San Jose improvement has been meteoric.  Last season the defense was porous as the Northern California team yielded an MLS high of 50 goals.  With today’s victory San Jose sits in second place in the Western Conference behind only the high flying L.A. Galaxy.

The San Jose surge has resulted in four straight triumphs, all via the shutout route.  The loss marked the only time that the Sounders have dropped two straight contests at home.  They remain winless this season against Western opponents going into their next league competition next Saturday at Colorado.

The win put the Earthquakes at 5-2-1 with 16 points.  The loss moved the Sounders under the five hundred mark to 3-4-3 and 12 points.

Chris Wondolowski came into the action as San Jose’s hot point producer with four goals.  In the 11th minute Bobby Convey served a ball headed by Brandon McDonald and Bobby Burling that reached Wondolowski.  His left-footed boot rolled just inside the back post.

While this was not a case of stoppage time blues with the Sounders, who have seen that pattern occur with unnerving frequency, it was accompanied by a highly familiar tendency.

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The Sounders ultimately emerged with decisive edges in shots, but coach Sigi Schmid was not about to advance that element in support of a silver lining behind the cloud theory.

“Too many times we have been victimized by lapses of concentration,” Schmid said at the post-match press conference.  “It is like watching a movie.  You close your eyes during a few brief periods of time and you lose the entire thread of the film.”

More will be revealed in a corresponding story about Schmidt’s comments, but to expand his movie analogy, this was clearly a case of a re-run that the Sounders mentor has seen too many times and would love to promptly eliminate.

The bottom line was that San Jose had just a single shot on goal early in the contest by forward Wondolowski and made it pay off.  The visitors had two corner kicks by midfielder Bobby Convey and as many saves by goalkeeper Joe Cannon.

On the other hand, forward Steve Zakuani alone had three of a total seven shots by the home team.  Sanna Nyassi and Zakuani each had a shot on goal while Nathan Sturgis had three corner kicks.

The Sounders move back quickly into action on Wednesday night, hosting international power Boca Juniors of Buenos Aires.