TUKWILA — Thrown water bottles, rescinded goals, livid fans.
Wednesday’s typical routine of viewing MLS games after training was drama-filled for Sounders FC midfielder Cristian Roldan this week.
The nightcap featured the San Jose Earthquakes, who’ll host Seattle on Sunday. Roldan tuned in to scout, texting teammate and close friend Jordan Morris, but was swept into the moment as the San Jose loss to the Philadelphia Union put Seattle in the postseason.
The Earthquakes looked to build a 2-0 lead early in the second half, but the goal was waved off after video review and later in the match referee Baldomero Toledo overturned a penalty in the box where the Quakes could’ve equalized. San Jose lost 2-1, fans cursing the officiating and throwing water bottles onto the field.
“These games are crazy and you have to really be focused for the whole 90 minutes,” Roldan said.
A novice would think the loss — San Jose’s fourth straight — signals a downtrodden team. Roldan and Morris have a different view from swapping text messages. The Union is the first team to defeat the Quakes at their Avaya Stadium since LAFC on March 30.
“We were talking about how it’s going to be a tough game in terms of the amount of pressure that they (San Jose) put on you,” Roldan said. “But if you can withstand the amount of pressure that they do put, especially in the first half, the field is going to open up and we’ll have chances to bury some goals.”
Despite Seattle being San Jose’s third match in the past nine days, the Quakes (13-14-5) are expected to be full of energy because a loss would eliminate the club from the postseason. The Quakes will also return leading scorer Chris Wondolowski, who missed the Union loss due to red-card suspension.
Meanwhile Seattle (14-10-8) could be without its anchor in center midfielder Nico Lodeiro, who sustained a lower back injury earlier this month and missed the club’s loss at D.C. United on Sept. 22.
Lodeiro was outfitted with a custom flak jacket and participated in parts of the Sounders’ past three training sessions. He traveled and is a game-time decision.
The Sounders return center backs Roman Torres and Xavier Arreaga to the rotation. Torres completed a 10-game suspension for violating MLS’ substance-abuse policy. Arreaga served a one-game, red card suspension.
“This is do or die for them,” said Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer of San Jose. “If you watched that Philadelphia game, they were on top of Philly for the first 30 minutes. It was just unfortunate they couldn’t get a couple-goal lead. They came out of halftime and score a goal that was literally inches offsides. … A lot of the messaging is they will come out, they will press and they are a desperate team. We have to be prepared for that.”
The Sounders said clinching their MLS-record 11th postseason berth by default with the San Jose loss and Portland’s draw didn’t relax the team. The goal remains to finish second in the Western Conference, which guarantees home games through the conference semifinals in the league’s new loser-out playoff bracket.
Seattle is currently fourth, which means it would host its opening-round match. But the position also puts the club in LAFC’s side of the bracket. The latter clinched the league’s Supporters’ Shield and first-round bye, hosting the winner of the fourth-fifth place game in the semifinals.
But, really, the Sounders could use a win to gain momentum headed into the postseason. The team was flat in the D.C. loss and finished in a scoreless draw against FC Dallas on Sept. 18.
In the last meeting with San Jose at CenturyLink Field in April, defender Kelvin Leerdam and winger Harry Shipp scored goals for a 2-2 draw.
“They play a very unorthodox kind of style that teams aren’t used to sometimes and they gave us some problems when they came here with it,” Morris said. “Philly did a good job of exploiting some areas that maybe they (San Jose) leave open. For us, it’s trying to do the same thing. … We don’t want to kind of just rest on being in the playoffs. It gives you a piece of mind knowing you’re in, but for us it’s trying to get toward second or as close as we can.”