At least that was the case on Sunday night, as the defending MLS Cup champions cruised past the San Jose Earthquakes 3-0 at CenturyLink Field, with two Cristian Roldan goals in three second-half minutes steering Seattle to victory despite the absence (via a combination of international duty, suspension and injury) of several important starters.
Playing in a more advanced midfield role than usual, Roldan nodded home his first after a long throw-in was flicked into his path by Gustav Svensson, then picked the pocket of Victor Bernardez for his second mere moments later. Dutch newcomer Kelvin Leerdam delivered the aforementioned long throw, and later capped the result with his first MLS goal in his first start.
- 54' – SEA – Cristian Roldan Watch
- 56' – SEA – Cristian Roldan Watch
- 65' – SEA – Kelvin Leerdam Watch
- KEEP ON ROLDAN: If Roldan felt any pain or frustration from being one of the six US national teamers sent home as part of Bruce Arena's roster shuffle for the knockout rounds of the Gold Cup, he's harnessed it for good use. Since rejoining Seattle the third-year midfielder has scored three goals, played five key passes and logged two solid 90-minute performances in two Sounders victories. It may only be a matter of time before he gets the USMNT call again.
'He knows he can play at that level." - Schmetzer on Roldan— Sounder At Heart (@sounderatheart) July 24, 2017
- NOT BINGHAM'S BEST: Conversely, Quakes goalkeeper David Bingham's trajectory has slowed dramatically since he was called into Arena's January camp alongside Roldan. Bingham was caught out, noticeably, in no-man's-land on Seattle's first and third goals, the latest of several goals conceded this season on which he knows he could've done better. San Jose have now allowed 12 goals in their last three games (all losses), and their playoff prospects look a great deal dimmer without their 'keeper in good form.
- SHIP-SHAPE ON THE SOUND? Something about one-sided losses in Kansas City seem to galvanize the Sounders. Last year an ugly road loss to Sporting KC was the prelude to their late run to MLS Cup glory, and this season, they're 6-2-2 since a one-sided setback there on May 17. They've now won three straight, are undefeated in five and have risen to fifth place in the Western Conference.
- SEA: Saturday, July 29 at LA Galaxy (10 pm ET | ESPN, ESPN Deportes in US, MLS LIVE in Canada)
- SJ: Saturday, July 29 vs. Colorado (8 pm ET | MLS LIVE)