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Originally published Saturday, March 23, 2013 at 10:33 PM

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Sounders' depleted offense can't find equalizer in 1-0 loss to Earthquakes

Chris Wondolowski, the 2012 MLS MVP, scored in stoppage time of the first half to give San Jose all the scoring it needed.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. — A woefully undermanned Sounders FC offense was put in the worst-possible scenario Saturday: Needing a goal.

Without three of its most dangerous offensive players, Seattle was unable to muster a potent attack in its second-half comeback effort against San Jose and ultimately lost, 1-0, in front of 10,525 at Buck Shaw Stadium on the Santa Clara University campus.

The Sounders, who tied their worst three-game start at 0-2-1, didn't have forwards Eddie Johnson and Obafemi Martins and midfielder Mario Martinez available. They were serving with their respective national teams for World Cup qualifiers.

The missing quality hurt, as the Earthquakes won their fourth straight game against Seattle, all of which came by a single goal.

The Sounders are tied at the bottom of the Western Conference.

"We feel disappointed," said midfielder Osvaldo Alonso. "One point in three games is always bad."

The Quakes (2-1-1) scored in the first minute of stoppage time leading into halftime, when forward Chris Wondolowski collected a ball outside the penalty box and fired a 20-yard shot in off the post with a curling right-footed attempt.

A devastating blow just before the break.

"If you go 0-0 into halftime it is, of course, a completely different game," said goalkeeper Michael Gspurning.

Wondolowski, the 2012 MLS MVP, has six career goals against the Sounders, more than any other player in the league. It marked the first time this season that San Jose, known for its dramatic comebacks, has scored the game's first goal.

Seattle's best chance to equalize came in the 75th minute, but Earthquakes goalkeeper Jon Busch denied a pair of back-to-back chances — first with a sprawling effort on a long-range shot by Mauro Rosales and then on a follow-up chance by David Estrada.

Rosales had a chance earlier, an acrobatic volley in the 55th minute, but it went wide.

The Sounders, in the end, finished with more shots (16-13) and possession (62.2 percent).

"A little bit of quality at the right moments, better service at the right moments, would've made a difference," said coach Sigi Schmid, who praised his team's spirit and effort.

San Jose was the more-dangerous team in the second half, and the hosts might have had a larger lead were it not for Gspurning.

The 6-foot-5 goalkeeper came up huge on a trio of second-half saves to keep the Sounders' comeback hopes alive.

The first came in the 47th minute, when a shot by Wondolowski took a wicked deflection and forced Gspurning to make a sudden reflex save across his body. The next two saves came against Earthquakes midfielder Shea Salinas on one-on-one scoring chances in the 61st and 73rd minutes.

A last opportunity came to the Sounders in the 89th minute, a hopeful free kick from long range by Alonso, but, like everything else on the night, it wasn't getting past Busch.

Schmid felt Seattle deserved at least a tie.

"We've got guys who are pretty ambitious and driven," he said, "and when they don't get results, they get a little ornery. ... We've got to continue to have that hunger and turn that hunger into wins."

NOTES

• Sounders FC next travels to Real Salt Lake for a March 30 road game at 6 p.m.

• Seattle was without injured midfielders Brad Evans and Shalrie Joseph (calf strains), but both are expected to return to practice next week.

• Estrada, a native of nearby Salinas, Calif., started his first game since May 26, 2012, having been out this year with an ankle injury and most of last year with a broken foot.

• Sounders rookie Eriq Zavaleta, the team's first-round pick in January's draft, made his MLS debut in the 84th minute.

• Earthquakes defender Ty Harden (started and played 90 minutes) and midfielder Jacob Hustedt (unavailable) attended the University of Washington.

Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or jmayers@seattletimes.com.

On Twitter @joshuamayers

Seattle 0 0 — 0
San Jose 1 0 — 1
First half — 1, San Jose, Wondolowski 2, 45th+ minute. Second half — None. Goalies — Seattle, Michael Gspurning; San Jose, Jon Busch. Shots — Seattle 16, San Jose 13. Shots on goal — Seattle 4, San Jose 5. Saves — Seattle 4, San Jose 4. Fouls — Seattle 10, San Jose 8. Corner kicks — Seattle 8, San Jose 7. Offsides — Seattle 2, San Jose 3. Referee — Baldomero Toledo. Assistant referees — Frank Anderson. Adam Garner. 4th official — Daniel Radford. A — 10,525 (10,526).

Lineups

Seattle — Michael Gspurning, DeAndre Yedlin, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Djimi Traore, Leo Gonzalez, Andy Rose, Mauro Rosales (Alex Caskey, 81st), Osvaldo Alonso, Steve Zakuani (Eriq Zavaleta, 84th), David Estrada, Sammy Ochoa (Lamar Neagle, 81st).

San Jose — Jon Busch, Jason Hernandez, Ramiro Corrales, Ty Harden, Nana Attakora, Dan Gargan, Rafael Baca, Shea Salinas, Sam Cronin, Adam Jahn, Chris Wondolowski.

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