Earthquakes battle Sounders to 0-0 draw, earn point in playoff hunt

The San Jose Earthquakes Chris Wondolowski (8) goes for the header against the Seattle Sounders Alex Roldan (16) in the first half of Sun Oct 18, 2020 at Earthquakes Stadium San Jose (AP News photo)

by Marko Ukalovic

SAN JOSE, Calif.- The confidence is continuing to grow for the San Jose Earthquakes pursuit of a playoff berth in the Western Conference. They battled to a hard fought scoreless draw with the Seattle Sounders on Sunday evening at Earthquakes Stadium.

The tie gives San Jose 24 points on the season as they hold on to the seventh spot in the Western Confernce and have earned a point in five of its last six matches (4-1-1). The tie also allowed Seattle to remain even with the Portland Timbers atop the conference with 31 points.

“I think that the players have regained their confidence and we have worked hard to be able to compete again. It wasn’t easy to get back up after so many losses and conceding so many goals. We insisted, based on our path, to recognize that when the team is doing bad, they suffer, but when they are united and play as a team, they compete. I think we now see a team that works hard, where everyone runs and everyone plays. The players now play with a confidence that they didn’t have a month ago. I hope they can keep this momentum, stay calm, and strive for more,” Quakes head coach Matias Almeyda said.

Seattle (9-4-4) were without superstar forward Raul Ruidiaz, who remained in quarantine in Peru following his positive COVID-19 test while on international duty with the Peruvian national team. 

The first half featured a wide open, up-style tempo as both teams exchanged scoring chances back and forth during the opening 45 minutes.

Nicolás Lodeiro tried giving Seattle an early lead in the sixth minute when he fired in a shot on net, only to have Quakes goalkeeper J.T, Marcinkowski make a two-handed save.

San Jose (6-7-6) had their best look of the first half in the 42nd minute, as Chris Wondolowski got on the end of a free kick from Cristian Espinoza and headed a shot that looked bound for goal, only to see it cleared off the line by Seattle’s Will Bruin to keep the contest scoreless.

The Quakes just missed a go-ahead goal in the 64th minute, when a shot from Carlos Fierro looked headed for the bottom corner of the goal. Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei was up to the task, however, laying out to make the save.

“The team is here to fight. We have to carry this team as high as we can. We are obviously aiming for playoffs; we are either in or out. The team, day after day, game after game, we know what we want and are getting closer to that. We are aiming for a trophy, but first our focus is playoffs. Tonight, we competed against a first-place team; a team that once defeated us by a lot of goals, but I believe they played against a different team tonight. We are a team that will fight, and it won’t be easy to knock us out,” said Fierro.

Both teams had a late chance, with the Quakes nearly striking again off an 80th-minute shot from Judson that was also saved by Frei. Seattle nearly struck back on the other end just a minute later, but Jordan Morris saw his dangerous cross intended for Bruin go out for a goal kick after springing free on the left side.

“It was a positive performance for us,” said left back Tommy Thompson after the game with four match remaining for the Quakes. “Any time we’re at home, we want to win. We fought hard, we could’ve won it there at the end. But I think it’s a good step forward for us against a great team and we got to keep this momentum going.”

The Quakes’ defense recorded its third shutout in the last four matches and held the league’s second highest scoring offense to just four shots, a season low.

Marcinkowski finished the evening with only one save for his second consecutive shutout and third on the season. Frie also made one save in his shutout performance.

GAME NOTES: San Jose had six corner kicks. Seatle had two.

Judson was named Man of the Match.

Wondo started in his 300th match for San Jose becoming the third player in MLS history to reach the milestone for a single club (Nick Rimando – RSL, Kyle Beckerman – RSL). He is the only player to accomplish the feat with his original MLS club.

The Quakes held Sounders FC forward Jordan Morris without a single shot for just the second time in his 14 starts this season.

Seattle leads the overall series 12-10-8.

UP NEXT: The Earthquakes travel to Portland, Oregon where they will play the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday 10/24 at 7:00pm at Providence Park.

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