Santa Clara, CA – Seattle Sounders FC will attempt to put its disappointing U.S. Open Cup finish in the rearview mirror on Saturday when it takes on the Western Conference-leading San Joe Earthquakes at Buck Shaw Stadium.
The Sounders missed the chance to claim a fourth-straight Open Cup title this week, losing in the final to Sporting Kansas City on penalties.
League form has not been an issue in recent weeks for Seattle though.
A nine-game winless streak has given way to a formidable Sounders run that has seen them claim 10 points from their last four games. Seattle has won its last two matches in league play, which came against Western Conference opponents, by a combined score of 6-1.
"What was important was our reaction to an important game, and it's six-point games when we're playing against the West that keeps us ahead of where we want to go," said Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid. "I think it sends a message to the other teams, as well, that streak that everybody was talking about is behind us and we're moving forward."
Eddie Johnson has been a welcomed addition to the Sounders squad this season, reaching double-figures in goals to occupy fifth place in the race for the MLS Golden Boot.
On Saturday, Johnson will go up against the man who leads that race, Chris Wondolowski.
"One of the things I put down as my goal is be consistent," said Johnson. "The best players in the world are consistent week in and week out and in this league Chris Wondolowski is a perfect example. To score that many goals year after year is something that's hard to do.
"Considering when teams know that you can score goals and their whole scouting report is to stop you scoring goals ... to be considered the best up there with the forwards in the league you have to be consistent."
Consistency has been key for San Jose as a whole, not just Wondolowski.
Last time out, the 'Quakes salvaged a point in a 1-1 draw with the Chicago Fire thanks to Steven Lenhart's goal deep into second-half stoppage time. It was San Jose's fourth goal scored in stoppage time to gain a victory or a draw this season.
San Jose has made a habit of scoring late this term - 16 of its 45 total goals have come after the 76th minute.
"We never say die and we never come into a game, or at any moment in the game, do we think that we are going to lose," said Lenhart. "I think we have had that mentality all season. We are very strong as a team with our focus and determination."
San Jose and Seattle last met on March 31 with the 'Quakes stealing a 1-0 victory at CenturyLink Field thanks to a 24th-minute strike from Wondolowski.