Players, Schmid on Seattle’s streakbuster, and the Johnson-Wondolowski clash
By Michael Ligot
“We came out and did what our game plan is,” said Seattle’s Eddie Johnson. “Just feed off the little run we put together the last three games and just trying to get better each game as a team.”
Did they ever. Lamar Neagle’s brace and goals from Mauro Rosales and Obafemi Martins allowed Seattle a surprisingly easy 4-0 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes.
“Obviously it was good to get a good result and a solid win. It’s been a while for us and I was happy with our team, proud of our team, of what our team did on the field,” said Sounders coach Sigi Schmid.
Chris Wondolowski, San Jose’s top striker, reluctantly agreed. “It was one of those games”, he sighed. “We know that they’re dangerous, and they showed their class today.”
Johnson chalked up that to renewed Sounders confidence. “This game’s about confidence. Like I said, we’ve come off four good results, four points in two games on the road, just trying to carry over that momentum.
“San Jose’s a great team, they’ve had our number in the past, and it was just one of those games where it motivated us a lot more to prove to them that they’re not invincible, to get out there and turn it over, and that’s what we did today.”
Wondolowski conceded trepidation about the Sounders’ slow start to the season. “They’re a great team, and we knew that coming in. They’re so dangerous, and they have a lot of guys helping out, which they haven’t necessarily had at the beginning.”
Schmid agreed about his team’s health. “[Brad] Evans has been playing with a calf that’s been bothering him a bit, we’ve been milking him through games at times,” he said. Captain Mauro Rosales also needed careful treatment. “When he got hit on that play in the first half, where he got taken down on that shoulder, it was uncomfortable. He actually took a pain shot at halftime, but as I was watching him he still seemed to be carrying it, so we wanted to get him off the field at that point, when it was 3-0.”
Amongst the healthy players, Lamar Neagle seems to have found a home in further starting lineups.
“We made the decision to push him up front,” said Schmid. “We mostly played him wide before that because we thought that’s where he could succeed for us as well, and now he’s finding his confidence. He’s a gamer … Obviously this afternoon’s performance was very solid. It will earn him more opportunities. … I thought [Neagle’s] first goal was a very, very good goal, a combination of determination but some very good soccer.”
Suspended Earthquake Steven Lenhart’s absence wasn’t deemed an excuse by San Jose.
“We’ve won games without him, we’ll continue to win games without him,” said Wondolowski. “We love having him, though, and he brings a lot to the team, so it hurts a little, but that’s definitely no excuse.”
The Sounders didn’t overplay the clutch forward’s removal, as well.
“It doesn’t change very much because you’ve got Alan Gordon and the style of play is the same,” explained Schmid. “Steven is a little more rambunctious than Gordon, but in terms of style they’re both big, strong physical forwards.”
“No, nothing at all,” added defender Djimi Traore. “For us it was like, whatever was in front of us, we deal with it.”
They dealt with it so well, goalkeeper Michael Gspurning enjoyed a low-worry game. And that was just fine by Schmid.
“I know he’s had harder games, but I’d be more than happy to have him have some games where he doesn’t have to make some saves, I’d be happy with that,” said the coach. “I don’t want our goalkeeper to lead the league in saves.”
Traore was very proud of their defensive effort, one he thinks could lead to some hardware for the Austrian keeper. “It was a clean sheet for us. We did it today, and I think it was great and it was good for Michael as well because he deserves it. He is like one of the best goalkeepers in MLS and if keeps going like that, I think he will be the MVP.”
About the late shoving match between Johnson and Wondolowski that earned them yellows? The Earthquakes’ striker said it was only a half-shoving match, and didn’t understand his caution.
“[Referee Jair Marrufo] said I pushed him, and I didn’t push him,” he said. “I kept talking to [Marrufo], and I asked him, ‘I’ll sit down and watch a replay with you, I’ll take a red card if I pushed him’, but he was not having any of it. He said for sure he saw me push him; I’d love to see that vision.”
For his part, Johnson said, “I passed the ball and he clipped me and I reacted.” But he shrugged off the incident. “I got a lot of respect for him as a player … It was a competitive match, [he was] just frustrated.”
Wondolowski vowed improvement for the Quakes’ subpar game. “We know what we have in our locker room, a lot of confidence. One thing’s for sure is that we’re going to work really hard this week, and I can guarantee you that we will definitely have a different attitude and a different thing on the field Saturday [vs. Colorado].”
Schmid, meanwhile, turned his focus to his next opponent, Western Conference-leading FC Dallas. “One of the things we talked to our team about is that we want to win the season series against teams. This is our first game against them, and it becomes a really good measuring stick for us. They’re a good team, they’re an exciting team, they’ve scored goals.”
And he doesn’t think the Sounders’ hot streak has been hot enough for him. “I want more wins and then I’ll say we’ve hit our stride.”