2018 Key Transfers: Seattle Sounders FC

With the 2018 MLS season just a few days away now, we have been running through the standout transfers for all 23 teams over the course of the winter transfer window. There have been a number of key signings and significant trades which should ensure the new season is as exciting as ever before. Today we take a look at Seattle Sounders and their key signings and departures ahead of the 2018 MLS season…

Seattle Sounders FC look to return to MLS Cup for a third straight year in 2018 after falling short in the final to Toronto FC. With CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) matches on the schedule for Seattle this season, coach Brian Schmetzer has spent this offseason adding depth to his side instead of focusing on bringing big name targets to the club. Veterans Clint Dempsey and Nicolas Lodeiro are still set to lead the attack, with both eager to bring a second championship to the Emerald City and their supporters. The added depth should allow Seattle to maintain their fitness this year as they look to secure both domestic and international hardware in 2018. The potential loss of Jordan Morris for the season poses a major concern though, if reports about the severity of his knee injury prove to be true.

Key Signings

Waylon Francis: The veteran defender comes to Seattle via trade from Columbus to help add depth at left-back alongside 20-year-old Nouhou after Joevin Jones left for Darmstadt in the winter window (more on him later). He and Nouhou will be competing against each other for minutes this year, something that Schmetzer hopes will push both players to improve throughout the season. Francis has performed well in preseason and picked up Schmetzer’s system quickly as he looks to log serious minutes in Rave Green this year.

Magnus Wolff Eikrem: The Norwegian midfielder was signed on a free transfer from Malmo FF and has already shown his ability to mesh well with Clint Dempsey in preseason, helping to set up goals with quick passes and skilled ball control in traffic. While the Sounders do have a good amount of depth in the midfield already, with the extra CCL matches on the schedule in 2018, Eikrem will give Schmetzer more options and more ability to rotate players for rest. Expect Eikrem to play in an attacking midfield position with the Sounders as well as some appearances as a wing midfielder as needed.

Handwalla Bwana: Seattle’s newest Homegrown Player signing has already impressed this preseason and with the busy schedule this year it’s likely he’ll find first team minutes at some point. Bwana will be trying to replicate Nouhou’s rookie season as he made the most of his rookie contract, playing crucial minutes in the playoffs and setting himself up to be the frontrunner for the left-back position this year. Bwana will have a lot more competition in midfield though and will have to have some stellar performances to steal starts from more veteran players.

Notable Departures

Joevin Jones: Jones’s transfer to Darmstadt was no surprise as the arrangements had been made the previous summer. Much of the late-season drama around Jones stemmed from his desire to leave for Germany in the summer and Seattle’s desire to keep him for the playoffs. Jones grew into a very dangerous attacker from a left-back position and his absence will definitely be felt but with the signing of Francis and growth of Nouhou, Seattle should be able to replace his impact this season.

Brad Evans: The former Sounders captain struggled through injury last season and has gone through constant uncertainty the last few years as he’s been moved from right-mid to right-back to centre-back while Seattle has made numerous signings in those same positions. Evans’s contract ran up this offseason and he exercised his options in free agency to sign with Sporting Kansas City. His departure has already saddened fans and teammates alike as many have taken to Twitter to express their disappointment while wishing him the best including Chad Marshall and yours truly. Truthfully Evans would have found it difficult to get minutes in this roster as deep as it is right now and the move to KC was the best decision for his career

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Report: Jordan Morris has torn ACL, set to miss entire season

Seattle Sounders’ worst fears for Jordan Morris’s knee injury look as though they’ve been realized. Stuart Holden has reported that the Sounders and US National Team forward has suffered a torn ACL in his team’s first match of the CONCACAF Champions League.

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Morris suffered the injury in the 83rd minute with Seattle down 2-1 to Santa Tecla while taking a shot on goal and immediately went down. Seattle had already used all 3 of their substitutes and played the remainder of the match down a man.

It is still unknown the extent of the injury as the Seattle Sounders have yet to confirm the report.

A study by Robert H Brophy, M.D. et al from 2012 found that 72% of soccer players who suffered ACL injuries returned to soccer after surgery. An article by Dr. David Geier that referenced the study also noted that the average recovery time after surgery was 12.2 months. The same study also determined male athletes were more likely to return than females and younger athletes more likely than older ones.

This should bode well for Morris’s recovery although it looks like it will be a long one and it should be considered highly unlikely he’ll return to the pitch in 2018.

Morris injured as Seattle struggles in 2-1 loss to Santa Tecla

Seattle Sounders FC’s trip to El Salvador to face Santa Tecla in the CONCACAF Champions League started well after Nicolas Lodeiro chipped the keeper from about 40 yards out to take an early lead after 15 minutes.But things fell apart in the second half, with Seattle falling 2-1 to the home side. While unfortunate to concede a questionable penalty kick that would give Santa Tecla the lead, Seattle was the inferior side for the second half of the match and was fortunate to get an away goal and only concede two.

For much of the match Seattle looked a step slower than Santa Tecla, and while part of that can be attributed to this being the first competitive match for the Sounders where as Santa Tecla is in the middle of their season, Santa Tecla seemed to want the win more. Tecla were winning 50-50 balls and pressuring the ball when Sounders had possession while Seattle was giving the Salvadorian side space to pass and move, bypassing the midfield with ease.

Tony Alfaro had a particularly difficult night for Seattle as he was caught out of position multiple times throughout the match. The centre-back found himself too far up the field on numerous occasions as he tried to win back possession, only to be unable to get to the ball in time to stop Santa Tecla. This created problems for Seattle’s back four, especially Waylon Francis on the left wing as he struggled to find opportunities to join the attack due to having to cover the space left open by Alfaro.

Offensively Seattle were reliant on counter-attacks and the speed of Jordan Morris to create chances. Morris was able to stretch the defence at times but rarely had a teammate to support him as late in the match conditioning became an issue. Morris would eventually have to come off after going down with an apparent knee injury. Morris was unable to put weight on his leg as he was half carried off the field by Sounders training staff and his health is easily the most concerning takeaway from the match.

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Ultimately this match was always going to be a test of the Sounders depth as they were without Clint Dempsey, Osvaldo Alonso, Kelvin Leerdam, Roman Torres, and Victor Rodriguez who all stayed home in Seattle. Brian Schmetzer fielded a lineup based on those closest to being 90 minutes fit and with the injury to Morris and limited depth at forward, it’s likely that their depth will be tested again next week in the second leg on March 1st. Their regular season opener will take place just days later against expansion side LAFC on March 4th.

While they were not the better side for much of the match, they were able to limit Santa Tecla’s scoring opportunities. Were it not for an unfortunate penalty call Seattle’s young, mismatched roster would have been able to return home with an all important away goal and a tied series. While it was not a performance Seattle will hang their hat on by any stretch of the imagination, it’s a result that the Sounders can be content with knowing they will be playing the second leg at home where they have outscored opponents 15 to zero in their last five matches.

Gallery: Exclusive photos from the Sounders’ 3-1 win over the Red Bulls

The Seattle Sounders are officially up and running after picking up their first win of the new season in their home opener against a New York Red Bulls side who suffered defeat in an MLS regular season game for the first time in 19 matches.

Clint Dempsey’s penalty put the Sounders up 1-0 at halftime before Bradley Wright-Phillips headed the visitors back into the game just 12 minutes into the second half. But the hosts showed great resilience and their positive approach to the game was rewarded when Jordan Morris headed them back in front on 66 minutes.

The points were wrapped up on 79 minutes as Joevin Jones’ shot was deflected in off the inside of Harry Shipp’s right foot, given Seattle a much-needed victory and ending the Red Bulls’ 18-game unbeaten streak in regular season play.

Check out exclusive photos from Sunday’s match below, courtesy of MLS photographers Denise McCooey and Paul Kahl.

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MLS Playoff Preview and Prediction: Colorado Rapids vs Seattle Sounders

Competition: MLS Cup Playoffs: Western Conference Final (Second Leg) – Colorado Rapids vs Seattle Sounders

Venue: Dick’s Sporting Goods Park – Sunday, November 27 – 16:00 ET (21:00 GMT) 

Match Odds: Colorado 1/1 – Draw 9/4 – Seattle 13/5

Match Preview

Colorado Rapids welcome Seattle Sounders in the second leg of the Western Conference Final on Sunday, with a place in the MLS Cup Final up for grabs.

The Sounders take a narrow 2-1 lead into the second leg at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park after they came from a goal down to win in the first clash.

The Rapids have an away goal but still need to go out and win this game if they are to make a first MLS Cup Final in six years.

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They’ve had an excellent season, regardless, but it would still be disappointing for the home fans if they crash out at the final hurdle here.

Colorado are in poor form coming into Sunday’s game, but they are unbeaten at home in 12 games, including the 1-0 win over LA in the Conference Semifinal – a game they ended up winning on penalties.

Seattle travel to Colorado as the league’s in-form team and showed their resilience with an impressive comeback win in the first leg.

Nicolas Lodeiro was the star man once again and he will need to be at his best here for the Sounders to cause the Rapids defence the same problems they did on Tuesday night.

Seattle Sounders vs Colorado Rapids - Nicolas Lodeiro

Seattle have lost their last two away games 2-1. A repeat scoreline here would take this game to extra-time – something that seems a real possibility given how little there is to choose between the two.

Getting an away goal will be the main aim for the Sounders, but they know they are going to need to defend from kickoff, with Colorado needing to attack.

Team News

Colorado will be without Tim Howard and Dillon Serna once again. Marlon Hairston will be pushing for a start after coming off the bench in last week’s first leg.

Clint Dempsey remains out for Seattle, along with Dylan Remick. Jordan Morris, Andreas Ivanschitz, Alvaro Fernandez and Roman Torres all came through knocks to play last week and should all be involved in the squad again here, with Ivanschitz pushing for a start in place of Erik Friberg.

Key Points

Colorado’s last five: L/D/L/W/L

Seattle’s last five: W/W/W/L/W

Key Stat: Colorado haven’t kept a clean sheet at home to Seattle for six years, only once keeping the Sounders out in nine clashes at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

Key Player: Jordan Morris – The Seattle forward has enjoyed an excellent first season in MLS and deservedly won the Rookie of the Year award. He will enjoy playing on the counter-attack in Colorado and proved his danger by scoring the equaliser last week.

Seattle Sounders vs Real Salt Lake - Jordan Morris

Score Prediction

Colorado Rapids 1-1 Seattle Sounders – This is sure to be a tense affair as things are so finely poised heading into the second leg. Colorado know they have to win this game if they are to have a chance of making the MLS Cup Final for the first time since 2010. However, the Sounders love to play on the break and have at least one goal in them here. A draw would see the visitors through and that’s how we see this one panning out.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Seattle Sounders vs LA Galaxy

Competition: Major League Soccer – Seattle Sounders vs. LA Galaxy

Venue: CenturyLink Field – Saturday, July 9 – 15:00 ET (20:00 BST) 

Match Odds: Seattle 11/8 – Draw 12/5 – LA Galaxy 19/10

Match Preview

Seattle Sounders welcome Western Conference rivals LA Galaxy to CenturyLink Field on Saturday in an important fixture for both of these sides.

Seattle’s season has been a difficult one for fans to take so far, they sit 9th in the West and trail the top six by seven points.

Sigi Schmid is under a huge amount of pressure to get his Sounders side playing to work up the table, finishing outside the playoff places would be disastrous but there is plenty of time to turn things around.

Sounders come into this one off the back of their 1-1 draw with Toronto, a positive result that ended a two-game losing streak. They must now build upon that point and aim to take all three this time out.

Seattle Sounders vs Philadelphia Union

LA Galaxy are sitting 4th in the West and will be far happier with how their season is currently going compared to their opponents.

There are still a lot of things that Galaxy need to improve on, especially away form, as they have only won one of their last 13 on the road.

Galaxy come into this one off the back of their 2-0 win over Vancouver, ending a seven-game winless run. Now is the time for LA to find form and really push on to challenge for the Supporters’ Shield.

Bruce Arena will be pleased to see some of his star players back in the side and on form, Robbie Keane scored on his return last time out and Steven Gerrard played a key role with both assists. He will be expecting his experienced players to step up here.

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Team News

Seattle Sounders have two injury concerns as Roman Torres is expected to be out, while Brad Evans is a doubt.

LA Galaxy have one more injury concern than Seattle heading into this tie. Robbie Rogers is out, while Ariel Lassiter and Dan Kennedy are both questionable.

Key Points

Seattle Sounders’ last five: L/W/L/L/D

LA Galaxy’s last five: D/L/D/D/W

Key Stat: Homesick – LA Galaxy have failed to win in 12 of their last 13 away games in Major League Soccer.

Key Player: Jordan Morris – The Seattle forward has been one of their best performers so far in a season of struggles. He has six goals and creating chances for him will give Sounders their best chance of winning this game.

Seattle Sounders vs San Jose Earthquakes Jordan Morris

Score Prediction

Seattle Sounders 1-2 LA Galaxy – This is a tie Galaxy will be expecting to win despite their struggles on the road. Seattle have a lot of work to do to improve on this season and are not performing anywhere near their usual best.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Seattle Sounders vs Colorado Rapids

Competition: Major League Soccer – Seattle Sounders vs. Colorado Rapids

Venue: CenturyLink Field – Saturday, May 21 – 22:00 ET (03:00 BST)

Match Odds: Seattle 19/20 – Draw 12/5 – Columbus 3/1

Match Preview

Seattle Sounders welcome high-flying Colorado Rapids to CenturyLink Field on Saturday evening in a game which has the makings for a great fixture.

Seattle saw their two-game winning streak come to an end last time out as they lost 2-0 against Dallas, it was their second loss in their last five outings.

Sigi Schmid’s side sit 8th in the Western Conference on 13 points, trailing the top six by four points. They need to continue to improve on what has slow start to the 2016 campaign if they are to make the playoffs.

Sounders have already lost to Colorado this season, which was their first defeat to the Rapids after a five-game winning streak beforehand.Seattle Sounders vs Philadelphia Union

Colorado extended their unbeaten run to seven games after their 1-1 draw away at Columbus last time out. They have won five of those seven outings and are proving difficult opponents to breakdown.

Pablo Mastroeni’s side reamain top of the Western Conference on 24 points and lead the way in the Supporters’ Shield standings by seven points.

The Rapids are unbeaten on the road in three and have been impressive so far this season. They have conceded the fewest amount of goals in Major League Soccer.

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Team News

Seattle Sounders have just one injury concern as Roman Torres remains out.

Colorado Rapids have three injury concerns. Sean St. Ledger, Eric Miller and Marco Pappa are all expected to miss out.

Key Points

Seattle Sounders’ last five: W/L/W/W/L

Columbus Crew’s last five: W/D/W/W/D

Key Stat: Seattle Sounders are in a great run of form at CenturyLink Field, winning four games on the bounce at home.

Key Player: Jordan Morris – The Sounders forward had scored in four consecutive games up until last weekend. His run of goals matched the all-time MLS record for a scoring run by a rookie.

Seattle Sounders vs Philadelphia Union Jordan Morris

Score Prediction

Seattle Sounders 1-1 Colorado Rapids – The sides to share the points in a low scoring tie. Seattle will feel confident of taking on anyone who visits CenturyLink Field at the moment considering their great home form, while Colorado aren’t losing games, so this has the makings of an intriguing tie with two sides cancelling each other out.

MLS Preview and Prediction: FC Dallas vs Seattle Sounders

Competition: Major League Soccer – FC Dallas vs. Seattle Sounders

Venue: Toyota Stadium – Saturday, May 14 – 21:00 ET (02:00 BST)

Match Odds: Dallas 4/6 – Draw 14/5 – Seattle 4/1

Match Preview

FC Dallas host Seattle Sounders in a key Western Conference matchup between two sides looking to challenge for the Supporters’ Shield title despite inconsistent starts to 2016.

Dallas ended a three-game losing streak with a 2-1 win over Portland on Wednesday night and will need to go again quickly here, with just two days rest in between these two important home ties.

Oscar Pareja’s side have struggled to find the net in recent weeks, but they are always a bigger threat at Toyota Stadium than on the road and have scored 11 in six home games so far.

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They sit second in the Western Conference heading into the weekend, but have played three more games than Seattle, who sit eighth ahead of this one.

The Sounders are only seven points behind Dallas and know that Saturday’s game is an excellent opportunity to close the gap at the top of the conference.

Sigi Schmid’s men have responded well to a terrible start, in which they lost their first three games, as they have only lost one of their last six since then.

Seattle Sounders vs Philadelphia Union

 

Last weekend’s 2-0 win over San Jose was their third victory in four and they look like a team on the up, despite their lowly position at this relatively early stage of the campaign.

This will be the first of three regular season meetings between the two sides. They met four times last year, with two games being played in the MLS Cup Playoffs. Dallas advanced in a dramatic two-legged tie that went all the way to penalties at Toyota Stadium and will be hoping to win back-to-back home games against Seattle for the first time in their history.

Team News

FC Dallas remain without star defender Matt Hedges, so Walker Zimmerman and Zach Loyd will continue their partnership at the back. Alex Zendejas also remains out, while goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez is a doubt so Chris Seitz will likely continue between the sticks.

Seattle will be without defender Roman Torres once again, though he is the club’s only injury concern heading into the weekend. Andreas Ivanschitz made his return from injury last week off the bench and will hope to start here.

Key Points

FC Dallas’ last five: W/L/L/L/W

Seattle Sounders’ last five: D/W/L/W/W

Key Stat: FC Dallas are unbeaten in their last 11 regular season games at Toyota Stadium (W9 D2).

Key Player: Jordan Morris – The Sounders rookie forward has inspired Seattle in recent weeks, having scored in four consecutive matches. No MLS rookie has ever scored in five-straight games but Morris will hope to set that record on Saturday night with another impressive display.

Seattle Sounders vs San Jose Earthquakes Jordan Morris

Score Prediction

FC Dallas 1-1 Seattle Sounders – FC Dallas are favourites for this one, given their impressive home record, but the short delay between matches may leave them fatigued. Seattle will hope to capitalise but they have yet to win away in three attempts this season and would probably be happy enough with a draw here. That’s the way this looks likely to end, though both will fancy their chances.

MLS Fantasy Focus: Make the most of the DGW ahead of Round 10

By Jamie Dawe and Sam Martin

The headlines from Round 9 have all been about Kei Kamara and Federico Higuain’s mid-game row. Their exchange of words over a penalty that would have secured Kamara his hat trick – but was eventually taken by Higuain – is a story that has travelled around the world. It marred an incredible eight-goal game, but in this week’s Fantasy Focus, we promise to focus on the football being played, not the spats off the ball!

Round 9 Review 

The Good:

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The MAPFRE Stadium, home to Columbus Crew, undoubtedly provided us with the game of the weekend, where an incredible eight goals were scored in the 4-4 draw between the Crew and Montreal Impact. It had been a disappointing start to the season for Columbus, but two goals from both Kei Kamara ($11.1) and Federico Higuaín ($10.5) put Columbus 4-1 up with just over 30 minutes to play. Remarkably, the Impact came back from the dead to salvage a point thanks to Ignacio Piatti ($10.6), Didier Drogba ($11.8) and a last minute goal from Dominic Oduro ($7.6). We have once again entered the familiar territory of Piatti gaining the most points of any player this week – with an astounding 18! While Montreal may top the Eastern Conference, Colorado Rapids are the shock leaders of the Supporters’ Shield standings, following a 1-0 home victory against an equally impressive Real Salt Lake. Jermaine Jones ($8.2) netted the goal that was the difference between the two sides to earn his side three crucial points and further cement his place as one of the league’s top players even after his unceremonious exit from New England. Robbie Keane ($11.7) may have been sidelined with injuries for most of this campaign, but the Irishman netted a brace in the Galaxy’s fifth win of the campaign, picking up 13 points in his 59 minutes on the field. Furthermore, it couldn’t possibly be a good weekend without Seattle’s Jordan Morris ($8.3) getting a mention. The forward has now scored in four straight matches as Seattle won their fourth-straight home game against San Jose on Saturday.

The Bad:

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The only red card of the weekend was collected by Orlando’s Cristian Higuita ($6.7), who was sent off late on in his side’s 1-1 draw with New York Red Bulls. OCSC are now on a run of five games without a win and with star turns Kaka ($10.8) and Cyle Larin ($9.2) in their side – it is fair to expect more from the men in purple. Meanwhile, Dallas failed to score and lost for the third consecutive outing. It has to be worrying the Texans with forward Maximiliano Urruti ($8.5) needing to regain the form that got him three goals in the opening four MLS games. Portland Timbers’ winless away run continued after defeat at Vancouver, while Sporting Kansas City also suffered a defeat away to Houston Dynamo. SKC are now winless in six after winning four of their opening five. Designated Players Benny Feilhaber ($10.9) and Graham Zusi ($10.1) will be expected to produce their finest form in the coming weeks, starting with this week’s DGW.

Round 10 Preview

Double Gameweek Must-Haves:

Jermaine Jones ($8.2):

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The Rapids are in tremendous form and it was sparked by Jermaine Jones’ entrance to the team. Fresh from his contract dispute with the Revs and his six-match ban for making repeated physical contact with referee Mark Geiger, the fire is very much within Jones’ play. Thrust into a more attacking role, he’s playing as well as he ever has – even at the age of 34.

Andrew Wenger ($7.2):

Houston have finally returned to some sort of form with a win over SKC and Wenger was instrumental in achieving the victory. Fixtures against San Jose and Real Salt Lake aren’t easy – but they’re certainly not the most difficult cards to be dealt at this point in the season. I would be shocked if Wenger didn’t pick up 10 points across the two games this week. If you don’t fancy Wenger, teammate Alex ($6.1) is bound to pick up a solid number of points at a cheap price.

Fanendo Adi ($10.3):

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The pinpoint in the Timbers’ MLS Cup winning attack, Adi is in fine form and with Diego Valeri ($10.5) pulling the strings behind him, he looks set to keep firing in goal after goal. He may be whisked away for international duty with Nigeria in Round 12, but he will be back in a flash – unlike other forward options like Giles Barnes ($8.5) and Chris Wondolowski ($10.7), who will exiting the league for the Copa America Centenario.

Maynor Figueroa ($6.7):

This is a risky one. Dallas may’ve lost three on the trot, but the former Wigan defender has performed solidly throughout and is still garnering plenty of bonus points. If Dallas were to keep a clean sheet in either of their two home games this week against the Sounders or the Timbers, it would be a shame to miss out on almost certain double figures. It’s also hard to ignore that Dallas are the only side to play both their games at home this week and Figueroa represents a solid pick.

Which players will you transfer in for Round 10’s DGW?

Gallery: Exclusive photos from Seattle’s 2-0 win over San Jose

The Seattle Sounders picked up their third win from their last four games as they beat San Jose Earthquakes 2-0 on Saturday night in a highly entertaining game at CenturyLink Field.

Goals from Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris sealed the win for Seattle, who managed to keep a clean sheet against a San Jose side that hadn’t been shutout in 22-straight games.

The Quakes had a great chance to score when Chris Wondolowski stepped up to the penalty spot in the 84th minute with the score at 1-0, but the striker could only find the post.

Morris then secured the win five minutes later with his fourth goal in as many games. Seattle are eighth in the Western Conference, just two points behind San Jose who sit fifth.

Check out exclusive photos from Saturday’s game below, courtesy of MLSGB photographer Denise McCooey.

Seattle Sounders vs San Jose Earthquakes Seattle Sounders vs San Jose Earthquakes Seattle Sounders vs San Jose Earthquakes Joevin Jones Seattle Sounders vs San Jose Earthquakes Chris Wondolowski Seattle Sounders vs San Jose Earthquakes Tyrone Mears Seattle Sounders vs San Jose Earthquakes Seattle Sounders vs San Jose Earthquakes Clint Dempsey Victor Bernardez Seattle Sounders vs San Jose Earthquakes Jordan Morris Seattle Sounders vs San Jose Earthquakes Jordan Morris