Are the San Jose Earthquakes running out of time? Clock is ticking after latest loss

All good things must come to an end. You just hope they don’t have to end with this kind of thud.

The San Jose Earthquakes came to Seattle on Saturday holding a four-match winning streak in MLS play against their hosts. By the time referee Jair Marrufo blew his final whistle, that mark was splattered all over the artificial turf of CenturyLink Field, obliterated in a 4-0 romp for the hard-charging Sounders.

It was San Jose’s worst loss to Seattle since the Sounders joined MLS in 2009, and their biggest defeat, period, since getting dunked 4-0 at Real Salt Lake on July 23, 2011.

The Quakes (3-4-5) slipped to 17th out of 19 MLS teams in terms of goal differential at minus-6, and rank eighth among Western Conference clubs at 1.17 points per match, having been passed by Seattle (1.33). Only Vancouver (1.00) are keeping last year’s Supporters’ Shield winners from touching the bottom of the table, as of Saturday afternoon.

OPTA CHALKBOARD: Sounders clinical in the final third

 “We are a team that prides itself on never giving up, and we didn’t,” Quakes coach Frank Yallop said. “But 4-0 never sits well with anybody.”

Yallop praised the quality shown on the Sounders’ initial three goals, which featured Lamar Neagle blasting a ball through Jon Busch’s attempted save, followed by perfectly placed shots off the post by Mauro Rosales and Neagle.

But the lost day was perhaps best summed up by the way in which Seattle DP Obafemi Martins finished the drubbing. Justin Morrow, who slid to the center of San Jose’s defense, tried to clear a pass from Seattle’s Eddie Johnson – only to see the ball ricochet off the shoulder of fellow center back Victor Bernardez and right to Martins, who gleefully cleaned up the opportunity from seven yards.

Morrow was playing in the middle rather than his typical left back spot because the Quakes’ injuries at center back currently run three deep. Jason Hernandez is still troubled by a calf strain, Ty Harden was unavailable due to Osteitis pubus and Nana Attakora – who endured a head-on-head collision Wednesday with Toronto FC’s Doneil Henry in the Quakes’ 2-1 victory – displayed concussion-like symptoms on Friday.

“You do what you’ve got to do,” Yallop said. “We don’t have anybody else to play there, right now. Justin’s played there before. Do I think it worked out smoothly? Obviously not, we conceded four goals. That isn’t good.”

FULL LINEUPS AND BOXSCORE

Quakes veteran Sam Cronin, whose missed connection in midfield led to the counterattack that culminated in Neagle’s first goal, said the club was done in by a collection of little moments that added up to a bigger, uglier picture.

With more than a third of the season down and the rigors of CONCACAF Champions League play still looming in the latter half of the schedule, the Quakes are out of time to futz around in search of a solution.

“Almost every game, there are defining moments,” Cronin said. “You’ve got to win those moments, and we haven’t  been winning those. …We’ve got to be better at limiting chances, and then when we get our chances, do better at scoring them, because we’re letting our chances leak by and they score another, and then it gets out of control like it did today.”