Drilling down on: at San Jose 2, Seattle 1

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Man of the Match: The most polarizing player in the league, Steven Lenhart had another love him or hate him night, spending much of the game bouncing off Seattle’s defenders. But when he wasn’t creating confusion for referee Baldomero Toledo, he was creating San Jose’s goals. In the 71st minute, he was the target on a long throw, winning a header that eventually set up Simon Dawkins’ opener. Three minutes into extra time, Lenhart ran unmarked onto a corner, redirecting the night’s winner into the right of Michael Gspurning’s net.

Packaged for takeaway:

  • Given the team he started, Sigi Schmid seemed willing to trade points for recuperation, his team having played mid-week in Kansas City. Eddie Johnson, Fredy Montero and Mauro Rosales were out, Seattle starting Sami Ochoa, Cristian Tiffert, and Brad Evans in their slots.
  • The choice was reminiscent of Seattle’s U.S. Open Cup visit to San Francisco, where Schmid had to start a second choice team to account for a crowded schedule. And just like at Kezar, San Jose failed to come out and control the game. By the middle of the first half, a weakened Seattle team was playing like the full-strength Sounders.
  • Past the hour mark, it looked like Seattle could get to full time with a draw. Then, chaos off a long throw from the right saw a ball fall to Simon Dawkins, the San Jose midfielder able to get his 12-yard shot through traffic and past Michael Gspurning. It was a pathos-laden turn, given how hard Seattle had worked.
  • Schmid, however, nearly beat San Jose at their own trick. Bringing on Rosales, then Johnson, then Montero, the Sounders had a completely different team at match’s end – exactly what the Earthquakes usually do to their opponents. Only instead of merely giving teams a different look (as San Jose does), Seattle’s team got a huge quality boost from Sigi’s reserves.
  • Perhaps ironically, it was another throw in (not some supreme feat of skill) that pulled Seattle even, with Victor Bernardez jumping under a throw that, after Sam Cronin tried to clear it, was headed in by Montero. The comeback kids had been beaten at their own game.
  • Or not. Ten minutes later, an errant Seattle header forced Gspurning to push a ball over for a corner. The ensuing kick met an unmarked Lenhart, who buried San Jose’s winner as if he was at practice.
  • If was a bitter way to concede the game, but given the team Schmid started, it’s no more than Seattle should have expected at kickoff. Yet, at full time, Seattle had a point. Whatever Schmid had decided before the game, the circumstances changed. The Sounders were a minute away from a draw, but they couldn’t hold on.
  • For San Jose, they have to feel a bit fortunate they were able to retake the lead, even if they have done comeback seemingly countless times this season. Given Seattle’s selection, a “best team in the league” (on points) should have managed their way to a comfortable three. Seattle deserves a lot of credit for making things uncomfortable, but San Jose also hadSeatt a part in the close result.