SANTA CLARA – Sounders FC’s 1-0 road loss to the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday punctuated the halfway mark of a mediocre season with a disappointing result amid controversial play and even more injuries.
Seattle (7-7-3, 24 points) and San Jose (6-9-6, 24 points) are tied for seventh place near the bottom of the Western Conference, although the Sounders have played three fewer games.
Playing .500 soccer through its first 17 games, Seattle continued to struggle on the road, losing their last three away from CenturyLink Field and three of their last four overall.
“We are not happy because we have injuries and we have had to change things around,” Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said of the first half of the season. “(Now) we have got to see who is healthy and figure out who is going to play. We are short midfielders now… we don’t know where we are in goal right now.”
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Schmid spent the majority of his postgame news conference voicing his strong displeasure with the game’s officiating and physical play that injured three of his players.
“You can’t create chances when a team kicks you and doesn’t want to play soccer, I’m sorry,” Schmid said. “Nothing against the (Earthquakes’) coaching staff, nothing against the players, but today was just an ugly, ugly, ugly, ugly, ugly, ugly game of soccer.”
The three injuries were to starting goalkeeper Michael Gspurning (left forearm), midfielder Brad Evans (bruised ribs) and defender Djimi Traore (right hamstring). No information was given on the extent of each injury and how long each player might be out.
“Two of the injuries (Gspurning and Evans) were obviously injuries that came on contact from them (the Earthquakes),” Schmid said. “I thought it was a terrible advertisement for the game in this league. I thought it was not officiated well, and I thought it was a very disjointed game.”
After a scoreless first half, the game-winning strike in front of a sold-out crowd of 10,525 at Buck Shaw Stadium came in the 48th minute. San Jose’s Walter Martinez received a ball from Steven Lenhart 12 yards in front of the Sounders’ goal before cutting around Sounders defender DeAndre Yedlin and blasting the ball past backup goalkeeper Andrew Weber.
“Weber did all right,” Schmid said. “Obviously DeAndre has got to get tighter to force the guy outside. You can’t let him (Martinez) cut back and get inside — it leaves Weber hung out to dry.”
Weber was filling in for Gspurning, whose injury occurred while diving for a save in traffic in the 18th minute. Gspurning played in pain the remainder of the first half before coming off.
“Gspurning got stepped on good by Lenhart, so we will have to see what the X-rays show,” Schmid said. “He said he had no feeling in his left arm, so we had to make the change.”
Weber made two excellent saves later in the second half, including stopping Lenhart on a one-on-one chance in the 54th minute.
Seattle had one final opportunity at the equalizer four minutes into stoppage time in the second half. After the Sounders’ Osvaldo Alonso was tripped outside the Earthquakes’ penalty area, Seattle had a free kick from 23 yards out. But midfielder Mauro Rosales’ kick was stopped by San Jose’s defensive wall.
A minute later Alonso added to the Sounders’ woes by receiving a red card after a dust-up, and the game ended a few seconds later.
“I thought there were times where we played some decent soccer, but there weren’t enough moments of it,” Schmid said. “It was just one of those games where you just roll up your sleeves and you hope for the best.”
• The contest was Evans’ 100th game with the Sounders. Evans, only the third player to do so, left in the 32nd minute after his rib injury.
• The Earthquakes played without three players due to international duty, including their top scorer, reigning MLS MVP Chris Wondolowski.
• San Jose claimed the season series 2-1, as the Earthquakes won 1-0 in March and the Sounders won 4-0 in May.