Seattle Sounders and San Jose Earthquakes played their first game in MLS is Back Tournament Friday night in Group B and the rust proved too much for both sides, as neither could find a way through to get on the score sheet.
Story of the match
The Sounders began with a positive mindset and had the first opportunity as Nouhou crossed and Raúl Ruidíaz made Daniel Vega work, despite his shot being from distance. The Earthquakes started to dominate as the half went on, however - but they had no real clear cut chances to trouble Stefan Frei in the Sounders' goal. Despite their dominance of the ball, the best chance of the half fell to Cristian Roldan for the Sounders. He had a one-on-one chance to put the Sounders in front, but Vega again stood firm.
The second half saw substitutions made for Seattle - Joevin Jones replaced Jordy Delem, which meant Roldan dropping into the center. However, it was the Earthquakes who dominated. The Seattle defense kept them at bay and meant most of their efforts were from range.
However, the Sounders had good chances themselves. Roldan forced Vega into a good save off a powerful shot from inside the box early on in the half, while Nicolás Lodeiro - starting for the first time since the 2019 MLS Cup - nearly opened the scoring with a powerful effort. It was Ruidiaz, though, that had the best chance to seal the game. Substitute Shandon Hopeau played in Kelvin Leerdam, who put in an excellent cross. He found the Peruvian striker in the box, but Vega stood tall once again to ensure the game remained goalless.
Takeaways from the match
It was very evident that both sides had not played for a significant period of time. There were some excellent passages of play from both sides, but particularly the defending MLS Cup champions. However, the quality in the final third just did not click - for either team. Both coaches will be hoping that their respective sides have used this game to get rid of the rust, and their attacking prowess will start to come to fruition in the upcoming group games.
Stand out players
It was a game where defenders were the stand-out players, with both defenses keeping clean sheets. For the Sounders, Gomez and Arreaga stood tall at the back - making the Earthquake's 62% possession count for nothing. It was goalkeeper Stefan Frei though that took the man of the match for Seattle. He made eight saves and earned his team a point. Similarly for San Jose, Goalkeeper Daniel Vega was the stand-out player. His first clean sheet of the season saw him make a number of vital saves to keep the Sounders at bay.
What the managers had to say
After the game, Sounders Coach Brian Schmetzer admitted his side has chances to win, but that a draw was maybe a fair result.
“We got better in the second half, although we should have scored in the first half. They’re a very good team, so give them some credit.
I thought the subs that came on did a good job. They did okay. Should have had one, we had a couple of chances… but I think 0-0 may have been a fair result.”
San Jose's Head Coach Matias Almeyda, meanwhile, was delighted with his side's efforts.
"I’m thankful for what the players gave, their interpretation from what we asked of them. I saw a team with soul, with chances. I’m really happy with the game the players played against the opponent which is the reigning champions.”
Up next for both
Seattle Sounders take on Chicago Fire in the next round of fixtures next Tuesday, while San Jose meet Vancouver Whitecaps next Thursday. Both coaches will be looking to use this point to build as they attempt to get out of Group B into the last 16.
Seattle Sounders Line Up: Stefan Frei; Xavier Arreaga, Nouhou (Miguel Ibarra 77), Kelvin Leerdam (Shane O’Neill 90+5), Yeirmar Andrade; Gustav Svensson, Cristian Roldan, Jordy Delem (Joevin Jones 56), Nicolas Lodeiro; Raul Ruidiaz, Jordan Morris (Shandon Hopeau 77).
Substitutes not used: Josh Atencio, Handwalla Bwana, Stefan Cleveland, Justin Dhillon, Ethan Dobbelaere, Danny Leyva, Trey Muse, Alex Roldan.
San Jose Earthquakes Line Up: Daniel Vega; Nick Lima, Oswaldo Alanis (Florian Jungwirth 64), Guram Kashia, Tommy Thompson (Shea Salinas 64); Jackson Yueill, Magnus Eriksson, Judson (Chris Wondolowski 75); Cristian Espinoza (Carlos Fierro 75), Vako (Cade Cowell 85), Andy Rios.
Substitutes not used: Tanner Beason, Eric Calvillo, Luis Felipe, Siad Haji, JT Marcinkowski, Paul Marie, Jack Skahan.