Sounders’ defense gets tough test against San Jose

Aug 10, 2012, 12:03 PM | Updated: 1:33 pm

It’s a classic case of the immovable object against the unstoppable force Saturday night when the Seattle Sounders hit the road to take on the San Jose Earthquakes.

Led by scoring machine Chris Wondolowski, the Earthquakes lead all of Major League Soccer with 45 goals. Seattle’s defense has been their key to success, giving up the second fewest goals in the league.

This will be the third meeting of the year between the Western Conference clubs. San Jose produced a 1-0 victory at Seattle in late March, while the Sounders returned the favor with a 1-nil U.S. Open Cup win June 26 in San Francisco.

West-leading San Jose will be well rested for this match thanks to a bye week. The Sounders could be drained after a gut-wrenching penalty kick loss at Kansas City in the U.S. Open Cup final.

Seattle coach Sigi Schmid expressed his concern in our Coach’s Corner interview.

“We have to dig deep,” he said. “It was 120 minutes for some players, so we have to dig deep in terms of our physical reserves and also emotionally. It’s probably the hardest thing to do in a shorter time period, but we have to do that.”

Schmid has a deep bench at his disposal. He said Adam Johansson and Jeff Parke are rested and ready to go against the dangerous Earthquakes forwards.

While Wondolowski has found the back of the net 17 times for San Jose, the Sounders have done a decent job defending him. Schmid said the key has been keeping possession away from the Earthquakes.

The Sounders’ new designated player, Christian Tiffert, has been used sparingly in the last two games against the LA Galaxy and Sporting Kansas City. Schmid said the German midfielder will get his first MLS start in this match.

“I wanted him to see the game from the outside and get a few training sessions in with the team,” Schmid said. “Based on everything that’s going on with our fatigue, I think it’s the right time to put him out on the field.”

The last Seattle-San Jose game ended with harsh words, pushing, and shoving. Schmid believes his players will keep their cool this time.

“We try to forget about what happened in that game, because each one takes on its own personality,” he said. “We can’t carry what happened then into this game or we won’t focus well.”

Because the Seahawks are playing an preseason game Saturday night, the Sounders game will not be on the radio. Rob Palmer and Kasey Keller will have the call on KONG TV at 7:30 Saturday night.

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