Yet the team’s locker room seemed like a wake, with player after player portraying the 1-1 draw with the San Jose Earthquakes as two points squandered far more than one point gained.
“You know San Jose treats it like a win, so we have to treat it like a loss,” veteran Chad Barrett said. “You use home games in this league to get out of slumps, help yourself get started. It would have been great to win. … Once we got the lead I thought we were going to carry it out for the three points; so definitely two points dropped.”
Barrett had put Seattle ahead early in the second half with the 50th goal of his MLS career. Chris Wondolowski equalized for the Quakes in the 65th minute.
Playing their fourth game in 11 days, the Sounders went with a mix and match lineup of regulars and reserves. But when that lineup couldn’t shake the Quakes, coach Sigi Schmid eventually sent on usual starters such as Clint Dempsey, Brad Evans and Lamar Neagle.
Even they couldn’t produce the game-winner down the final hectic minutes, however, and the slumping Sounders settled for a draw with the eighth-place team in the Western Conference before a home crowd of 38,909.
“It’s just resting people,” Schmid said. “Evans felt he was better, but we felt it would be too much to push him in this game too early. Dempsey, like I said, he’s been going all year; we’ve got to find him little breaks here and there or else we’re going to burn him out completely. I thought he came on and did some good things for us.”
Dempsey admitted the reduced minutes were appreciated.
“I’m feeling tired,” he said. “I’ve been going non-stop since December, really. So that’s why I was rested today, just trying to get my legs back under me and try to feel a little bit energized. Hopefully we can figure out a way to manage that and get back to feeling good again.”
Seattle controlled the run of play most of the way, and seemed to become particularly dangerous in the closing minutes of the first half. Then they struck in the first minutes of the second half, when Obafemi Martins rolled a pass up the middle of the field to Barrett, who finished from the top of the penalty area.
“Great ball by Oba,” Barrett said. “Good finish. And it was great to get the 50th, but that’s something you think about at the end of the career. Right now, three points is really all you want.”
San Jose prevented that 19 minutes later, when former Sounder Cordell Cato juked DeAndre Yedlin into the penalty area and sent a pass across to the far post, where Chris Wondolowski knocked it in.
“It was more the defender than me,” Cato said. “He dropped off and allowed me the space, so I did what you’re supposed to do: keep it in the box.”
The Quakes had lost a key player earlier in the day, as it was announced that newly signed designated player Matias Perez Garcia had undergone meniscus surgery and is expected to miss four to six weeks. However, 19-year-old homegrown forward Tommy Thompson made his first career start.
San Jose moved to 6-9-7, eight points out of playoff position.
The Sounders (13-7-3) return to league play at 2 p.m. Sunday at Portland.
“Some draws you come out feeling pretty good about them, and some you feel just a bit depleted,” Seattle midfielder Andy Rose said. “Unfortunately tonight we probably let two points slip. It falls into that category. We have to pick ourselves up now: obviously a big week ahead of us.”
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