Seattle Sounders Defend MLS Title in a Inconvenient Way
Group B of the MLS is Back Tournament got thrown into turmoil on Monday when FC Dallas withdrew after having 10 players and one staff member confirmed positive for COVID-19. So while we know Seattle Sounders and San Jose Earthquakes will face each other in game one, MLS has not yet announced if they will make any changes to the tournament or groups.
Seattle and San Jose played twice last season with a 2-2 draw in Seattle and a1-0 Sounders win in California. Seattle swept the Earthquakes in 2018 and picked up one win and a draw in 2017. You have to go back to June 20, 2015 for the last time San Jose beat the Sounders in a MLS contest.
Seattle Sounders Outlook: Collect Trophies
This isn’t the same title Seattle won last year obviously but they are a franchise and a team used to winning. They have won MLS Cup’s (2016, 2019), US Open Cup’s (2009-11, 2014), a Supporters’ Shield (2014) and three Western Conference Titles (2016, 2017, 2019). Raul Ruidiaz led last year’s team with 11 goals while Jordan Morris scored 10 times and keeper Stefan Frei turned in 10 clean sheets.
This season got off to a great start for the defending champs as they celebrated in style at home with a brace from Morris in a 2-1 win over Chicago Fire. Morris scored to tie the game in the 62nd minute and scored a dramatic winner three minutes into added time for the win. In the second game of the season Ruidiaz scored a penalty kick in the 79th minute to earn a 1-1 draw with Columbus.
Manager Brian Schmetzer has a few new players at his disposal this season with Brazilian midfielder Joao Paulo as a Designated Player and 6’2 defender Yeimar Gomez Andrade. The Sounders hope to have forward Will Bruin back from injury in time for their second group game after 30-year old tore his ACL last season.
San Jose Earthquakes Outlook: Flip the Script
The San Jose Earthquakes missed the playoffs by four points in 2019 as they finished in eighth place in the Western Conference with a -3 goal differential. Team captain Chris Wondolowski became the MLS all-time leading scorer last year and finished the campaign with a team-best 15 goals in 32 contests. Vako Qazaishvili was next with eight while Cristian Espinoza lead the team with 10 assists.
The Earthquakes lead the MLS in returning 90% of their minutes played from the 2019 to 2020 roster according to Scoresandstats.com They did take the loan off Espinoza’s game from Villarreal and also bought out a loan on midfielder Judson. Outside of the draft picks the big addition in the offseason was center back Oswaldo Alanis from Chivas Guadalajara where manager Matias Almeyda coached before joining SJ in 2019.
Almeyda saw his team start the 2020 campaign with an impressive 2-2 draw against the defending Eastern Conference Champions Toronto FC. Trailing 2-0 at home, San Jose got a goal from Andres Rios in the 53rd minute and an equalizer from newcomer Alanis five minutes into added time. The second game didn’t go nearly as well on March 7 as Minnesota United led throughout a 5-2 win in San Jose.
Seattle Sounders/San Jose Earthquakes Betting Lines
Seattle -110 to win
San Jose +240 to win
Over/Under 3 goals (O -125, U -105)
The Earthquakes need a fast start, especially given that FC Dallas dropping out of the tournament moves them to the second-best odds to win Group B. However having to face the defending champions who they have not beaten in nine games is not a friendly scheduling prospect. The Sounders are proven winners and they thrive in tournament situations, so stick with Morris, Frei and company until they falter.
GUIS FREE PICK: Sounders to Win (-110). Bet the Sounders at our leading per head head bookie site A1PPH.com.