Throughout their current rut, the Seattle Sounders have been looking for something to spark a turnaround.
They are hoping they found exactly that in Tuesday’s 1-0 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes in the US Open Cup quarterfinals.
“The character was fantastic,” Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid told the team’s official website following the game. “There were a lot of guys that sacrificed a little bit and gave up a little bit of their ego for us to succeed today. That’s what we’ve been talking about lately. We’ve got to give up a little bit of our ego to and sacrifice for the sake of the team.”
Schmid pointed out that players such Leo González, Roger Levesque (above) and Servando Carrasco basically went from not playing at all recently to turning in solid 90-minute shifts. He also highlighted the play of Brad Evans, who made a rare start as a right back and looked comfortable and confident.
The Sounders boss seemed especially pleased that the Sounders overcame multiple challenges to pull out a victory against the team that is currently leading the Supporters’ Shield race.
“It was an important game,” Schmid said. “Not only winning against a MLS team, but going on the road. There was a lot of people that thought, ‘Oh the Sounders can’t win the Open Cup if they have to play on the road.’ We dealt with only having about 48 hours of rest.
“So we overcame a lot of things today. That can help the team because you realize that obstacles are there but that obstacles are there to be overcome and we can overcome those obstacles.”
The nature of the game may also serve to be a catalyst. The match was physical from start to finish and actually boiled over into a full-blown bench-clearing incident at the end that involved some kind of physical altercation between Sounders forward Eddie Johnson and Earthquakes reserve Jed Zayner.
“Anytime you can win a game like that, maybe it’s not the prettiest soccer, but at the same time you come together and you fight for each other,” Levesque told the March to the Match podcast following the game. “Hopefully something like that can create momentum heading into the next game and beyond. We’re fortunate to have a quick turnaround, we play on Saturday [at New England], so this will be fresh in our minds. The fight and determination we showed today will hopefully shine through on Saturday as well.”
The reverberations of this game could last even longer.
“Games like this are how rivalries start,” Levesque said. “I think both teams at this point need to take a little time to cool down, but absolutely we’re looking forward to the next time we play each other.”
Jeremiah Oshan covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com and SB Nation.