Seattle, WA – After a poor start to the season, Seattle Sounders FC appears to be on the upswing.
Seattle is unbeaten in its last four matches, taking eight points over that stretch to move into a tie with Vancouver Whitecaps FC last place in the Western Conference.
Now, after a three-game road trip, the Sounders will return home to CenturyLink Field on Saturday to take on the San Jose Earthquakes.
The Sounders have proven to be road warriors so far this term, claiming seven of its nine points away from CenturyLink. Ironically enough, striker David Estrada claims that their lengthy road trip, as opposed to a run of games from the comfort of their own home turf, helped the Sounders overcome their 0-3-2 start to the season.
"We didn't have a very good start to the season, and we knew we had to turn things around," Estrada said. "One of the ways you can do that is by going on the road. It tests your character. A lot of guys have had to step up that normally don't play, and I think we didn't miss a beat. Now we're looking forward to bringing this momentum home to get three more points with our fans at our back."
Seattle is entering the final game of a span of three matches over eight days. Quality in the club's depth has been a key factor in helping the Sounders overcome squad rotation - be it through injuries, suspensions or rest - to claim a string of positive results.
"A lot of guys have had to step up that normally don't play, and I think we didn't miss a beat," said Estrada, who recovered from an injury of his own to start in Seattle's 1-0 win over Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday. "We're a little short-handed with injuries and suspensions, but anyone who steps onto the field for us can do well. Whatever the matchups are, I think we can always do a good job."
Defense has been pivotal to Seattle's recent success as well. The Sounders have leaked just two goals in their last four matches compared to five goals in their opening four games.
The Sounders defense will need to be on point if it hopes to contain an Earthquakes side that has scored two goals in each of its last three league matches.
San Jose is riding high in its run of three games in eight days. The 'Quakes stormed back with two late goals to take a point from a 2-2 draw with the Montreal Impact last weekend before coming from behind for all three points in a 2-1 victory over Toronto FC on Wednesday.
It was enough to see San Jose climb into the top half of the Western Conference table, bringing the club five points clear of Seattle with 14 points on the season.
If the Sounders can cure their indifferent home form with a victory on Saturday, they will inch closer to a spot in a playoff position, a place with which they have grown quite familiar.