Sometimes the best performances require just as much introspection as the worst. So it was for the Seattle Sounders after they routed the San Jose Earthquakes 7-1 while becoming the first team in MLS history to score five goals in the opening 33 minutes of an MLS match.
Raul Ruidiaz had two goals and two assists, and might've had more had coach Brian Schmetzer not mercifully taken the Peruvian striker off the field shy of the hour mark. Joevin Jones recorded the first multi-goal game of his MLS career after starting as a more advanced wide midfielder. And the Sounders had more than enough catharsis on the heels of a 2-1 home loss to the rival Portland Timbers the weekend prior.
It all left Schmetzer and his staff wondering: How do we get more of that Sounders side?
"The coaching staff was just meeting for the last 20 minutes talking about ways how we could’ve improved the team tonight," Schmetzer said in his postgame media availability. "And how we could’ve done things a little differently, and how do we get Joevin Jones to have those type of performances again. How do we get Jordan on track? How do we work on our overall team defending. What worked in our game plan? What was it tonight that worked so well against normally a very challenging team to play?"
The Sounders may be unbeaten now in 11 matches against the Quakes (six wins, five draws), but none of the previous encounters suggested this kind of carnage. Current San Jose boss Matias Almeyda had earned two points off Seattle in three previous matches, including a 0-0 draw back at the MLS is Back Tournament in July.
Highlights: Seattle 7, San Jose 1
Was it as simple as as Seattle channeling the frustration of a rivalry defeat? Maybe.
"I just think the team was ready to play tonight," Schmetzer said. "I was most impressed with the mentality. It wasn’t the coaching staff. It was that group of players in that locker room. I could tell before the game they were ready for this game. They wanted to play again to erase the sting of losing to Portland."
Schmetzer still expressed frustration at conceding a late penalty, and his insisted he would not let the uncertainty over the remainder of the MLS schedule — yet to be released — hinder his club's workmanlike approach.
It was a continuation of a firmer tone he has carried throughout 2020, since the Sounders began their second MLS Cup defense in club history. And it appears to be rubbing off even on newer arrivals like midfielder Joao Paulo, who scored his first goal at home in MLS competition in the victory.
"We need to work with consistency and bring the level up," he said through an interpreter. "It's not always that we are going to find 7-1 scores, but it was definitely a better match already. And if we keep improving and keep this level, we'll be able to approach the next few matches with more tranquility."