TUKWILA – The wait between games is harder some weeks than others. And following the worst defeat in franchise history — Sunday’s 5-0 loss at New England — the Sounders seemingly couldn’t get back on the field quickly enough.
“You have to remember the lesson and kind of forget the event,” said forward/midfielder Lamar Neagle.
Winning is the best and perhaps only cure, and Seattle will look to put things right and stay atop the MLS standings in Saturday’s 7 p.m. home game against the San Jose Earthquakes.
Some of the Sounders, motivated to prove the last result was an outlier, couldn’t be peeled off the practice field this week, according to coach Sigi Schmid.
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“Everyone who’s competitive, it eats at you,” Schmid said.
“We just have to know which team we are. Are we the team that played the first 10 games or are we the team that played the 11th game? I think we’re the team that played the first 10 games. I still have a lot of faith in the group, and they have faith in themselves.”
That faith also applies to the quality of Seattle’s depth, with a trio of key starters away with the U.S. national team in a pre-World Cup training camp: leading scorer Clint Dempsey, captain Brad Evans and starting defender DeAndre Yedlin.
Schmid said the remaining Sounders should “smell the blood in the water” as it relates to the opportunity for playing time. Players like Kenny Cooper, Chad Barrett and Jalil Anibaba, who have been mainly limited to reserve roles, are the top candidates to assume larger roles.
“Obviously it’s a challenge when you’re not playing games,” said Cooper, one of the top active scorers in MLS. “You’re hungry to get out there and help the team and contribute.”
San Jose’s roster has been similarly affected with top scorer Chris Wondolowski and starting defender Clarence Goodson in USMNT camp. The Earthquakes’ issues, though, extend far beyond that, so much so that the visitors won’t be able to dress a full team of 18. Only 16 players reportedly traveled.
San Jose’s Victor Bernardez, a former MLS Defender of the Year finalist, has been suspended Saturday for a reckless play last week against Dallas. Bernardez, who is on Honduras’ World Cup squad, was going to be allowed by his national team to play against the Sounders.
Also suspended is midfielder Shea Salinas, who had played nearly every minute this season before being issued a red card Saturday in the Dallas game.
When it comes to injuries, the Earthquakes are expected to be without defender Andy Gorlitz (knee), forwards Alan Gordon (groin) and Steven Lenhart (knee), and first-round draft pick Tommy Muller (back). Listed as questionable are newcomer Yannick Djalo (groin) and veteran Atiba Harris (hamstring).
• Midweek ticket sales for the game had eclipsed 47,000. It will mark the first of six games this season the Sounders increase the soccer capacity at CenturyLink Field. Seattle is 8-0-2 in MLS games in front of home crowds greater than 45,000.