The Sounders clinched their eleventh straight playoff berth on Wednesday by way of a Portland Timbers-Sporting Kansas City draw. However, the team was not ready to rest on their laurels, as they are still fighting for a second seed and home advantage. Today they took on a struggling San Jose Earthquakes team, who had lost four in a row and was fighting for their playoff lives.
San Jose looked aggressive early, with a cross in the third minute going across an open goal. If not for a slight touch from Gustav Svensson, Chris Wondolowski would have had the opportunity for the simplest of tap-ins.
Jordan Morris had a good look at goal in the 13th minute, but his attempt was kick-saved by Mario Daniel Vega. Just two minutes later, San Jose’s Magnus Eriksson had a good look at goal from distance, but Stefan Frei did what Stefan Frei does, making an outrageous one handed save.
Despite both teams attacking often, the game went into halftime 0-0. Early in the second, Morris got another good look at goal but took a long time to decide if he wanted to try a shot or pass to Raul Ruidiaz and ended up once again kicking the ball right into Vega’s leg.
In the 57th minute, San Jose defender Tommy Thompson was shown a red card for an incident with Xavier Arreaga. Despite being down a man, the Quakes almost got on the scoreboard a few minutes later with a bicycle kick by Florian Jungwirth off a free kick but Frei was once again there to flick the ball over the crossbar.
Arreaga was then also sent off after an extremely questionable yellow card, his second, in the 72nd minute for a foul outside the box that was initially called a penalty. Referee Ismail Elfath went to VAR and rescinded the penalty, but that didn’t negate the fact that the Sounders were now down a man as well. Sounders announcer Steve Zakuani lamented not just this yellow, not just both of Arreaga’s yellows in this game, but in fact all four that Arreaga has received this season (the other two occurred just two games ago against FC Dallas and were also extremely suspect).
The ensuing free kick looked like a certain goal, but it bounced off the woodwork and the rebound was headed right into Frei’s waiting hands. Now ten versus ten, both teams looked to open the game up and look for a goal, with San Jose really pushing the issue. However, the game became a lot of running back and forth with no real danger for either team.
In the 86th minute Raul Ruidiaz and Brad Smith had a brilliant little give-and-go but Smith showed why he is a defender and not a forward as his touch went right into the hands of Vega. A minute later, Smith was replaced by a freshly shorn Roman Torres, who returned from his ten game suspension.
San Jose saw a great attempt in the 88th minute but Carlos Fierro‘s cross was just out of reach for Andy Rios.
Then, in the 94th minute, Jordan Morris sprinted past Jungwirth to corral the ball and, finally, chip it up and over Vega.
San Jose tried drawing a penalty in the final few moments of stoppage but Elfath wasn’t buying it and blew the final whistle at 97:13. Sounders took three points away and the result, along with the rest of the results today, moved Seattle up to third, even on points with Minnesota.
Oh look, it’s Minnesota! The final game of the season couldn’t have been scheduled any better, as the Loons, and Osvaldo Alonso, will travel to CenturyLink Field with the second seed on the line. That game will take place Sunday, 10/6, at 1:00 PT.