The Seattle Sounders have to put the disappointment of failing to win another U.S. Open Cup behind them as they prepare for a growing rival - the best team in MLS.
The Sounders will go on the road Saturday night to face the San Jose Earthquakes after a post-game melee broke out the last time these teams met.
Seattle (10-5-7) enters after losing on penalties in Wednesday's U.S. Open Cup final at Sporting Kansas City. The Sounders won the tournament the previous three years before dropping this shootout after the match ended 1-1.
"I think we had a good chance to get four in a row," coach Sigi Schmid said. "We missed our last three penalty kicks so that is something that doesn't help."
Seattle is making its first trip to San Jose (13-5-5) since winning 1-0 there on June 26 in an Open Cup quarterfinal matchup.
Earthquakes forward Alan Gordon was ejected late in the game for hitting Sounders defender Marc Burch in the back of the head. There was also an altercation after the whistle between Seattle forward Eddie Johnson and San Jose defender Jed Zayner, with allegations that each punched the other as both teams converged near midfield.
Gordon won't be around for this one since he was also sent off in San Jose's last MLS match, a 1-1 tie with Chicago on July 28. Coach Frank Yallop is also suspended Saturday since he was ejected for flinging a water bottle onto the field during the game against the Fire.
San Jose, which leads the league with 44 points, won 1-0 at Seattle on March 31 in the lone MLS meeting this year between these clubs. Chris Wondolowski's penalty kick was the difference.
Wondolowski holds the league lead with 17 goals, but has gone a season-high three straight games without one. The forward has been tough to stop for the Sounders, who have seen him score four times in his last five MLS matches against them.
San Jose will be well-rested considering it hasn't played since a 2-2 draw July 31 against English Premier League club Swansea City. Substitute Steven Lenhart scored the game's final two goals in the last 10 minutes.
San Jose will have midfielder Mehdi Ballouchy available for a league match for the first time. Ballouchy, acquired July 30 from New York, played 62 minutes against Swansea City in his first appearance with the Earthquakes.
The Sounders were disappointed with Wednesday's result, which cost them one chance at qualifying for the CONCACAF Champions League next season. Another opportunity would be to win the Supporters' Shield, but they trail the Earthquakes by seven points.
"Our focus has to be quickly back to league play and on our game on Saturday versus San Jose," defender Zach Scott said. "That is the most important thing at this point."
Seattle is 3-0-3 in its last six MLS games, winning 4-0 at home over Los Angeles last Sunday. Midfielder Christian Tiffert, a veteran from the German Bundesliga, made his Sounders debut in that contest.
- San Jose Earthquakes
- Seattle Sounders
- San Jose
- Sporting Kansas City