Sounders win, 2-1, moving to 5-3-5 and 20 points on the season. San Jose drops to 2-8-3 and remains at nine points.
Freddie Ljungberg was selected man of the match with a goal and an assist. But Fredy Montero also had a goal and an assist. And the Fredy & Freddie interplay was one of the most encouraging things to come from this game.
"I thought that Montero and Ljungberg did a very good job in the first half of interchanging," coach Sigi Schmid said. "You saw Montero a lot on the right wing and he did that job when he was inside and Ljungberg was on the right, so they did a good job of interchanging and that's the way we want to play. As they get more and more time with each other we'll do that better and better."
(Schmid also said went out of his way to praise Stephen King, who he said covered a lot of ground.)
"Me and Fredy we try to work (together)," Ljungberg said. "Early in the season I played the midfield and I had to defend and lot and I had to go back deep, so we were far off on the pitch. Now we're trying to mix a little bit and we're higher up and then we can have more combinations, me and Fredy, and it worked well."
However, a little shine came off of Montero's night as he butchered a clearance -- actually sending the ball back into Seattle's penalty area -- setting up San Jose's lone goal. I didn't have a chance to speak to Montero after the game, but clearly Kasey Keller wasn't happy at the time, and he hadn't mellowed much in the locker room.
"There were a whole lot of problems on that goal," Keller said. "We got complacent and didn't clear the goal. I don't know why. It definitely won't happen again."
The Sounders' dominated most of the way, but klunked around a bit after their second goal. Schmid said as much after the game, But after going since April 25 without a win, he was more interested in three points in the standings than he was in style points.
"When you're in a streak where we weren't getting win, but right now you take the win," Schmid said. "There were games where we played well – Chivas as an example – and we came away with the loss and probably played a better compete 90 minutes than we played today. But at the end of the day it's a good solid win at home, and I'm very proud of the effort that the team put in."
The Sounders don't have long to celebrate. They return to action Wednesday against Eastern Division leader D.C. United at Qwest Field.
Schmid pointed out that players such as Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Nate Jaqua will be back for that one. And Osvaldo Alonso came on in the closing minutes tonight and could be ready to start again Wednesday.
Also, Tyrone Marshall, who came off the field briefly tonight after getting kicked, said he feared he was hurt worse than he was, and he said he'll be ready for United.
68th minute: 2-1. Quakes get on the board on a defensive blunder as the Sounders had a world of trouble clearing the ball out of their penalty area. Once they finally did, Montero somehow sent the ball back in, and this time San Jose took advantage.
59th minute: Sounders go up 2-0 as Ljungberg takes a corner kick that Patrick Ianni heads on to Fredy Montero, who finishes from close range.
Halftime: Sounders, 1-0. Sounders have six shots and four shots on goal. Quakes two shots, one on goal.
42nd minute: Sounders dominated chances from the start. But they finally got one on the board as San Jose defender Jason Hernandez tumbled over the ball in his own end. Fredy Montero tapped it to Sebastien Le Toux who sent it on to Freddie Ljungberg, who beat keeper Joe Cannon 1-on-1 from just outside the goal box.
It was Ljungberg's second MLS goal.
Kickoff: Game about to begin. Quakes in all black, Sounders in green/blue.
Normal gameday blogging planned here: News as it breaks, a halftime report, then postgames notes and quotes -- plus, of course, your own observations and comments. (Here's one: They need three points.)
Golden scarf: Tonight's golden scarf goes to Fred Mendoza, the top soccer advocate on the stadium authority.
Lineups announced: Both teams are out warming up. And the lineups have just been released:
Sounders: GK Keller; D Riley, Ianni, Marshall, Wahl; M Ljungberg, Evans, King, Zakuani; F Le Toux, Montero.
Quakes: GK Cannon; D Leitch, Hernandez, Pitchkolan, Zaher; M Alvarez, Corrales, Ribeiro, Huckerby; F Wondolowski, Johnson.
Gameday dawns: The long countdown to tonight's 7:30 kickoff has begun for the Sounders and Earthquake.
The game is a big one for the Sounders' hopes in the MLS standings because it begins a friendly stretch of schedule that seems to offer a chance for them to get back closer to the league-leaders than the desperate middle hoping to make the playoffs.
That's sort of the focus of my preview story in today's paper. Meanwhile, here's the latest on the Quakes from the Mercury News. And here's a link to the MLS Match Center, where you can keep an eye on action across the league. There are a few interesting games today, also including a big Chicago-DC match in the East, an interesting RSL-LA match in the West and the Texas rivalry of Houston and Dallas.
Speaking of rivalries, tonight's game at Qwest will be the first of a two-game series for the so-called Heritage Cup, which will be awarded annually from among the MLS teams carrying their historic NASL names. For now, that's only Seattle and San Jose. The Cup will be determined between today's game Seattle's visit to San Jose on Aug. 2. It won't use aggregate score, but the traditional three points for a win, one for a tie formula ... along with tie-breakers. Details here.
And finally, don't forget the fund-raising corportate double-header explained in the post below.