The Sounders had numerous opportunities to put away injury-depleted San Jose Wednesday night, but found the net only once in 24 tries and settled for a disappointing 1-1 draw with the road-lame Earthquakes at CenturyLink Field. By collecting one point, however, the Sounders (13-7-3) moved into a tie with Real Salt Lake for first place in the Western Conference with 42 points.
In front of 38,909, the Sounders outshot the Earthquakes 24-10, including 7-3 on goal, but their only goal came 37 seconds into the second half when Chad Barrett took a superb feed from Obafemi Martins on the edge of the box, wriggled past three defenders, and rocketed in a left-footed shot past San Jose keeper Jon Busch for his sixth goal of the season.
Seattle lead held until the 65th minute when former Sounder Cordell Cato, who took the ball down the left wing nearly to the goal line, delivered a great cross to Earthquake striker Chris Wondolowski, who tapped in a point-blank shot past Stefan Frei for his ninth goal of the year, leveling the match. The goal was Wondolowski’s seventh all-time against Seattle.
Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid hoped to rest Clint Dempsey and Lamar Neagle, but was forced to bring in both off the bench following Wondolowski’s equalizer in an attempt to create scoring opportunities. The substitutions didn’t work. Dempsey managed a header on target in stoppage time, but Busch smothered it easily.
Despite a huge advantage in shots and time of possession, 59.1 percent to 40.9, the Sounders did not play well, especially considering that San Jose was coming off a 5-0 home drubbing, the worst loss in franchise history, to Dallas and had won only one road game all season.
“We came out flat and we didn’t want to do that,” said Barrett. “We were looking for three points. We had 24 shots tonight, but we need to find the back of the net. We’ll just have to regroup.”
The match was the third and last of the regular season between the Sounders and Earthquakes. Both won 1-0 at home before Wednesday’s draw. The Sounders are 6-8-2 all-time vs. San Jose.
Wednesday was the 100th MLS match at CenturyLink Field since the Sounders joined the league in 2009 . . . Martins, who sat out the Real Salt Lake match last week due to a pair of yellow cards, drew another yellow Wednesday in the 77th minute . . . The draw was the first at home for the Sounders this season.
The Sounders take on the Portland Timbers in a Cascadia Cup match Sunday at 2 p.m. at Providence Park. The match will be televised by ESPN 2.
As a season ticket holder and close observer of the team, they just don’t seem the same since the World Cup break. Something is off. Zigi better get this team firing on all cylinders again before too long or he is going to be under some heat. We just can’t have a flame out again like last year – there is too much talent on this team to be losing and/or drawing games like we have been lately.
The fire wasn’t there last night. At least it was a draw but at this point the club needs a wake-up call. This was a match they should have won and let Dempsey and Neagle rest.