The Sounders and San Jose Earthquakes resumed a rivalry that dates back a quarter century tonight.
The Earthquake defeated the Sounders, 3-2, at San Luis Obispo, Calif., in the first MLS meeting of the two sides. Each team scored two first-half goals – both of Seattle's coming from forward Fredy Montero. However, Quincy Amarikwa got what proved to be the winner for San Jose in the 46th minute.
Neither franchise is directly descended from the North American Soccer League teams that last met in 1982. But even without that connection, they also are linked as the two newest teams in MLS. And that makes comparisons inevitable between the expansion Earthquakes of 2008 and the Sounders of 2009.
I was in the Bay Area last week and talked to Quakes coach Frank Yallop about that.
"They're off to an easier start than we had, but still it's going to be difficult," he said. "I think you don't know what you've got until you get them in camp. That was my big thing: You don't want to cut anyone too short and not give them a chance. It might have cost us half a season and it might have cost of a chance of making the playoffs -- but I'm not sure we were ready to make the playoffs right off the bat."
San Jose went 8-13-9 last season – tied with the Galaxy with a league-low 33 points. However, the Quakes went 6-5-4 after the all-star break, showing progress they hope to build on this season.
"We're into a rhythm," Yallop said of the difference between Year One and Year Two. "The guys that are coming in now, the new guys, are getting taught by the guys on the field: what to do, how to go about business, what to expect from me and each other. I think that is the big difference. We had a bunch of strangers last year, and I think coupled with not a great amount of talent to start with, I think we didn't get off to a great start. Having said that, we were competitive in every match, and with a little bit of luck we could have won a couple of games early and we might have made the playoffs."
Yallop also said he thinks that's a logical goal for these Sounders, even in their first season.
"Sigi's a great coach in this league," he said. "I think they've got a great organization up there and they're going to be fine. How well they do is a little bit of lady luck here and there. But all the teams in the league are pretty close. We were one of the teams that wasn't too bad last year, and same with Seattle I think. They'll be good."