The Sounders’ hot start to the season was on the verge of becoming a distant memory until they stoked a fire in the second half of their matchup against San Jose on Wednesday.
Down two goals early after halftime, Seattle found two in two minutes to remain unbeaten at CenturyLink Field behind a 2-2 draw.
“This game was chaotic,” said Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan, who at times played center back because of San Jose’s man-to-man marking defensive strategy. “We gave up two crappy goals, that’s really the story of the game. We figured out a way to score two goals, that’s a credit to our guys. We still could’ve scored a third but may have gotten lucky to get a (draw).”
For the Earthquakes (2-5-1), it was their second straight improvement after starting the season on a four-game losing streak. Seattle (5-1-2) opened the schedule with its best start in franchise history in a six-game unbeaten streak. The Sounders’ troubles coincide with injuries that only mounted Wednesday.
Midfielders Victor Rodriguez and Gustav Svensson were substituted in the second half after apparent injuries. Rodriguez required on-field medical attention as his attempted header against San Jose midfielder Jackson Yueill spun Rodriguez full circle in the air, landing on his backside.
Wingers Brad Smith and Harry Shipp were substituted into the rotation in the 55th minute and immediately changed the pace of the match to get Seattle its goals.
Sounders defender Kelvin Leerdam had the first goal off a Nico Lodeiro corner kick that had one bounce before Leerdam headed it into the net in the 65th minute. With the crowd of 37,722 revived, Shipp created a frenzy with his goal in the 67th minute.
“I was getting in good spots, dangerous spots and I was lucky enough to get a goal and help us back into the game,” Shipp said. “It was probably as chaotic a 30 minutes as I’ve ever been a part of in MLS. It felt like a track meet out there and that’s partly the way (San Jose) plays and the way they want it.”
Shipp scored the lone goal in Seattle’s 4-1 loss to Los Angeles FC on Sunday. The Sounders were disappointed in their lackluster showing but were also missing three starters in forwards Raul Ruidiaz and Will Bruin and defender Chad Marshall.
Marshall, a three-time MLS Defender of the Year, returned to the starting XI on Wednesday. Ruidiaz missed a fourth game due to a bruised heel and Bruin joined him on the sideline for a second consecutive game due to a hamstring pull.
Smith was also taken out of the starting lineup. Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer adjusted by again moving Jordan Morris up top to replace the forwards. On the wings, he put Nouhou and Handwalla Bwana, the latter only starting six games as a rookie last season.
The changes brought more energy than Seattle had against Los Angeles and creative formations. Defenders Marshall and Kim Kee-hee had near goals with Leerdam scoring. But despite Seattle excelling in passing and possessing the ball in the opening half, it was down 1-0.
San Jose scored its opening goal in the 34th minute. Midfielder Magnus Eriksson sent a pass to midfielder Shea Salinas, who worked his way around a stumbling Leerdam to knock a left-footed attempt into the back of the net.
Quakes players rallied around Salinas in a wild celebration after the goal and kept the festive nature going in the second half as he scored off a cross in the 53rd minute. The two goals brought his total to four in San Jose’s past four games.
“The effort out of that group today was very, very good,” Schmetzer said. “You go down 2-0 to an unorthodox team, they’re tired and they were able to persevere and score two goals. We had a chance to win the game and that’s all I can ask for.”