The Seattle Sounders know a thing or two about momentum.
They’ve used second-half runs to capture the Western Conference championship each of the past two seasons and won the MLS Cup title in 2016.
So despite being 10 points out of the conference’s sixth and final playoff berth at the moment, the Sounders aren’t giving up quite yet.
Seattle (5-9-5, 20 points) is undefeated in four matches this month (2-0-2) after Saturday’s 2-0 victory against Cascadia Cup rival Vancouver. The Sounders will try to keep that streak going when they visit the San Jose Earthquakes on Wednesday night.
“I think the psychological gain was just winning. I mean, the scoreline, yes, that’s great. Stef deserved [a shutout]. The defense played well. All of that is minor,” Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer said after Saturday’s match. “I think just getting the three points was the intention and that’s the positive. You’ve got two wins and two draws in the last four games, and you start to build momentum. So, that’s what was important.”
Midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro scored both goals for the Sounders, doubling his season total. And forward Raul Ruidiaz, a recent international acquisition, made his Seattle debut in the 61st minute. Ruidiaz scored 40 goals over the previous two seasons for Morelia in Liga MX.
“I think everyone could hear how excited the fans were when he came on,” Sounders defender Kelvin Leerdam said of Ruidiaz’s debut. “It’s a new signing, everybody needs to get adjusted to him on the pitch. We try to learn as much at training as we can about him. I know he likes to shoot a lot. I hope he can take it into the games. I have to say we have three good strikers with [Will Bruin] and [Clint Dempsey] also so it’s on to the coaches to decide who plays.”
The Earthquakes (2-11-6, 12 points) are coming off a much-needed bye after going 10 matches without a victory (0-6-4) in MLS league play.
They seemed to gain a bit of momentum with three straight draws before losses at Portland and Montreal.
On Sunday, they played a scoreless draw with Manchester United in an exhibition at Levi’s Stadium, the home of the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers.
Considering they’ve allowed a goal in 24 straight league matches, two short of the franchise record set in 1999, that result was encouraging.
“We came out well,” Earthquakes coach Mikael Stahre said. “I think we played quite disciplined and compact, but also created quite a few chances. I’m pretty happy with the performance.”
San Jose holds a 10-8-5 advantage in MLS play in the all-time series against the Sounders.
—Field Level Media