Martins' Goal Keeps Sounders FC Atop Western Conference Standings
SEATTLE--Obafemi Martins' game winning tally and a shuffled Seattle (8-3-1) lineup managed a 1-0 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes (2-4-4).
Sounders FC keeper Stefan Frei recorded his third shutout of the year. Seattle's defense rebounded from last week's their worst ever 5-0 road loss against the New England Revolution.
Frei's San Jose counterpart Jon Busch made numerous point-blank saves to keep his side within striking distance. He'd faced 16 shots by the end of the match.
The 49,746 in attendance, the MLS' largest crowd this year, watched the two Western Conference rivals play without five starters called up for the U.S. Men's National Team World Cup training camp.
The Sounders lost the services of their leading scorer Clint Dempsey, midfielder Brad Evans and defender De'Andre Yedlin. Chris Wondolowski, San Jose's top striker, and defender Clarence Goodson rounded out the absentees for the visitors.
Martins struck in the eighth minute to give Seattle a 1-0 advantage. Midfielder Gonzalo Pineda sent a high cross into the box. The Nigerian striker ran towards the end line and used a left-footed lob to send the ball to the far post. It sailed over Busch and landed inside the nets for Martins' fifth tally of the season. Pineda notched his fourth assist of the year on the goal.
San Jose midfielder Khari Stephenson provided his side with the best chance of the night to tie the match. Stephenson lined up for free kick opportunity 30 yards from the top of the penalty box with a dozen minutes left in the first half. His hard struck kick missed the left post.
Without Wondolowski on the pitch, the Quakes failed to put a single shot on target in the first half of play. Seattle managed to record two and walk into the locker room with a 1-0 lead.
Thirteen minutes into the second half, Lamar Neagle one-timed a cross from Martins towards the San Jose goal. Busch made a outstanding reflex hand save to prevent the Sounders from scoring.
Martins misfired on an open header five minutes later. Defender Leo Gonzalez's deep cross into the penalty box found Martins positioned by the near post. The striker's header sailed wide left of the goal.
Busch came up big in the 65th minute to stop Neagle's point-blank shot. Martins let a pass go untouched between his legs that found Neagle to his right. He outmaneuvered three defenders and watched as the San Jose keeper once again made an acrobatic stop to keep the margin at one.
Busch made two more fine saves in a two-minute span. He frustrated midfielder Osvaldo Olonso's 84th minute attempt to double the score. The veteran stopper first used his legs, then grabbed the ball stop the scoring threat. Two minutes later, he thwarted Chad Barrett's try for Seattle's second goal.
The Sounders head to Canada next week Saturday for a Cascadia Cup encounter against the Vancouver Whitecaps. San Jose returns home for a Sunday matchup against the Houston Dynamo.