14 Days With The Quakes - A Roller Coaster On And Off The Field
QUAKES ON BOTH COAST, Vol. 1 No. 7
Matt: Well, the 3 games in 8 days did SJ no favors. Despite a change in lineup and player management, they tied Austin (blame it on weather?), were pummeled by Orlando (total defensive collapse), and had another Clasico thoroughly handed to them by an aggressive Galaxy team. Josh, what were your takeaways from this first brutal stretch?
Josh: Woof - yes, let’s get the first three games out of the way. I got all excited to see Wondo start and hopeful with lineup and field strategy shuffles, but it certainly didn’t seem to work out to their benefit. I’ve come to understand that part of Almeyda’s magic and excitement is being flexible and active in the moment, but moving players all around the field and in different roles can be hard. Cowell as right fullback? Or even Cowell as a sub? I can understand why the team looked a little confused at times.
Matt: The team looked rudderless all week, and there was a definite correlation between Remedi’s absence in Orlando and the biggest beatdown of the season. If I had remembered his yellow card accumulation issue I would have been less optimistic in our last post. Though, interestingly, a number of good teams struggled with their third game in the week (e.g., Philadelphia, Seattle, Portland, New England). One positive: I will say that JT looked much more composed than he did in the first few weeks of the season.
Josh: I think he took your feedback!
Matt: Well, I doubt he’s seen this blog, but thanks for your support.
Josh: And I agree that Remedi is definitely a positive addition to the midfield; it was noticeable game-to-game. Back by the goal, the backs and JT didn’t appear to be communicating well. One definite own goal, and a couple where the backs were in good position. The shots weren’t even fancy, but they hit the back of the net. A goal differential of -7 in the first three games, which included a 0-0 tie, says something was not clicking.
Matt: I think you’re right about the GK and back line communicating. Even when JT was putting the ball back into play you could see the disconnect. And that was just rolling the ball.
Josh: I’m confident that the shakeups and lack of specialized fullbacks back there were contributing to the challenge. Speaking of shake ups - how about that GM opening in the Front Office! The vocal SJ fans on Social are thankful for the change and are hoping for a change in ownership as well. Their arguments seem to mostly be around not spending the money to fill all three DP spots on the roster. One could argue that the four-and-a-half years with Fioranelli in the GM spot have not been the best for the Club, so it will be interesting to see if/how the leadership change impacts the team down on the field.
Matt: Let’s pause this storyline with a quick glance at this year’s Americana jerseys.
Josh: Subtle segue into everyone’s favorite segment: Kit Talk.
Matt: Maybe it’s the Revs fan in me, but I liked the wavy red stripes. It took me a while to notice that the ringer and logo/sponsor accents were blue - the blue is so dark that the interwebs makes them look black. In general, I don’t like monochrome logos. I know there’s a style called “clean up” or something, but it’s not my thing. What do you think?
Josh: Of course I love the Americana jerseys. Everyone in the US who was playing soccer, and definitely in my age bracket, during the ‘94 World Cup, should appreciate those warmups. I immediately think of Alexi Lalas and Cobi Jones welcoming the world to our tournament. As for varied jerseys and colorways, since I came from the land of UnderArmour, I love the variety - but you should still be able to tell who the team is at a glance.
Matt: Okay, maybe I’ll stay open minded - I won’t pass judgment until I see them in person. One thing I REALLY wish I had seen in person: the fantastic showing by the Quakes Starting XI against Minnesota! With Nathan, their latest addition, on the back line (along with his energizing performance, including spiking a soccer ball like a football after “winning” an out of bounds play!), they put together a strong 90 with him on the back line. Maybe his midfielder experience helped the defense read what was coming and move the ball more effectively into the middle third? I’d also love to see SJ bring in a real assist king (*cough cough* Carles Gil), but if Nathan can boost the defense to let the midfield and offense focus on their roles, I’ll take it for now. That may have been Almeyda’s plan for MN - put Nathan and release the Kraken, I mean the Cowell, on Minnesota. And it seems to have worked.
Josh: I was so excited to see a new lineup that looked designed to build on the strengths we saw over the previous challenging week. I wish I could’ve seen more of the game, but ESPN+ had a regional blackout in The Bay, blocking an away game! So frustrating. But the highlights showed a fresh team, playing hard in the roles where they play best!
Matt: You could definitely see the future potential of the team assert itself - Cade “Kraken” Cowell (can I copyright that?) scores first, and MOTM Kikanovic scores his first career MLS goal to give SJ two. Along with JT, Yeuill, and Espinoza, this young core and more took the game to the opponent for the first time in a few weeks, not the other way around.
Source: @sjearthquakes Instagram
Josh: You can and you should! And Shea Salinas ran strong, drew the defense, and chalked up his 50th assist! Remedi played strong alone in the middle, but keeps accumulating yellows. We want to keep you on the field, Sir!
Matt: I have to give JT credit for his work in the box against Minnesota. Yes, he let the ball rebound on the PK and let one past him during that crazy corner kick, but he made many strong plays and saves and didn’t let Minnesota’s aggressiveness throw him off his game. I also appreciated his moxie giving the ref an earful before the PK. The ref clearly didn’t like it, but I think JT was justified offering his earnest feedback.
Josh: While we won’t see this lineup repeat against Colorado on the 17th, another 90 minutes with the team energized like they were on Saturday would be amazing; especially at home with the PayPal Park crowd at their back.
Matt: It’s hard to predict with the next two weeks off, but against Colorado, MLS points-leading SKC, and Houston, they should come away with at least 4 points. Speaking of points, this installment’s ratings are a little tough - while the game against Austin was a moral loss IMHO and they lost the next two, the tie against MN was a definite moral victory where SJ showed their mettle. Keep in mind that Remedi is already one yellow shy of another suspension. It’s hard to imagine he won’t miss one of the next four games. I’ll weigh my ratings with the MN game more in mind. And best wishes to Yeuill for getting called to the USMNT again!
Josh: Excited to see Jackson on the international pitch with your guy Turner! Hopefully USMNT keeps the ball moving the right way in Gold Cup play! And on the 17th - Vamos SJ!
Rating on the Quake-o-meter Scale for Games 9-12 (Richter goes to 9, OURS goes to 10)
Final Score on the Quake-o-meter Richter Scale: 7.25/10
Current % chance of a San Jose/New England MLS Cup Final: 0%... until the Quakes get themselves back onto the bubble…
Twitter: @massmatt_matt @joshuaglenn