QOBC Vol. 3 No. 7 - May 3, 2023
Photos: @sjearthquakes Instagram, compiled by Josh
Josh: Spring has sprung, the roses are blooming, and the weather that Bay Area residents are paying for has returned. Unfortunately, our Black & Blue team haven’t gotten much chance to enjoy it… or had much cause for celebration. Hope you had a good Rabbit Rabbit celebration for May Day?
Matt: The end of April was rough for a lot of MLS teams - ample draws, some injuries, and confusion about officiating spread liberally around the league. And while I for one love the idea of the Open Cup, this tournament is just not viewed the same way as the FA cup in the British Isles – yet. I hope that day will come. But before any of that, the Bay Area team had to travel to the Wasatch Mountains.
Josh: Interesting topic for another episode - how many off-leagues Cups are too many? Yep, the Quakes first traveled to Utah to face the formerly-mighty RSL. I’m not sure if it was confidence, fatigue, or the cold, but they slowed down and played RSL’s game. Having seen them battle for weeks with testing the defense, pushing forward, and moving the ball constantly, we saw Earthquakes players standing still, overthinking passes, and effectively bringing nothing and expecting to bring home points.
Matt: Yes, the now standard 4-3-3, with Cowell, Ebobisse, and Espinoza up front, and the latest version of the banged up defensive line. The team struggled to get the ball deep into their offensive, allowing RSL to be patient and wait for a crucial mistake. Gruezo didn’t anticipate a pass back from Rodrigues, and RSL picked his pocket and used their fifth gear to set up a 3 on 1. JT did well to make himself big and got a couple of fingers on the shot, but it banged in off the bottom of the crossbar. After Espinoza sent in a great shot on a set piece (partly thanks to the RSL defense), there were some competitive moments in the remainder of the game, but RSL seemed to have unlocked the San Jose right D, and that was that. Sadly, there were no points for the team that wore the better One Ocean jerseys…which would have been SJ.
Josh: The dark One Planet jersey was the better one this year - and a correction: the light color was officially “Acid Mint”. On the pitch, a bright spot for San Jose was Cade Cowell, of all players - the guy who traveled, trained, and started with USMNT - kept his energy up and tried to drive the game. More than once, he obviously received the ball, sized up the defender, and made a run for the back touch line and fired the ball in for his team. And it was nice to see Espinoza properly wearing the Captain’s armband for at least a little while at the end of the game.
Matt: Things have obviously changed since last season, but this game was a shadow from the recent past, when the Quakes gave up goals a little too easily. *shiver* I have to give props to JT - I am starting to see him start the play forward more and more this year. I think he’s wanted to do it for a while, but maybe this season it’s becoming easier to get that going immediately after the save.
Josh: Then zoom back to California and a bus ride down to Monterey for the Quakes’ first round of the US Open Cup. Like many other MLS teams, SJ74 were reminded that USL squads are very strong and have more to prove. My high points from this game were Jack Skahan (why was he subbed off?) and seeing Daniel in the back line getting in a workout on his repaired knee.
Matt: I don’t have a lot to say here. I have the benefit of hindsight, but this to me quickly looked like the Quakes deciding to commit a certain amount of effort and personnel without risking further damage to the team and wear and tear within the MLS schedule. Monterey got the lead in the 26’ and just made it hold. Optimists would say that a few Quakes got some valuable minutes and experience.
Josh: I mean, I guess? To me, it looked like 5 starters, 5 subs, and Jack Skahan - maybe that was a missed opportunity to really give minutes to guys who have been hustling in training to stretch their legs. And a good stretch is what everyone needed for the third match in these 8 days. Q2 Stadium was host to this round of the Silicon Valley Clasíco… at least that’s what I’m calling it. It must’ve been hot as we got to see Coach Luchi in a t-shirt on the sideline. What did you think of the Austin match up?
Matt: Interspersed with a few moments of brilliant soccer, including Yueill’s “I’ll just put that in there” goal and Espinoza’s fantastic feed to Ebobisse, and yes, a couple good goals from Austin, was a whole lot of rough play (including a two-handed shove takedown in the box of Espinoza) that, to the surprise of NO ONE, culminated in a hard tackle near the end of the game. Of course the home team took offense, but if you’re going to play hard, you can’t claim injustice when it comes back to you. I never want to see anyone get hurt, but people who play hard will eventually have their opponent serve it right back to them.
Josh: Kudos to the San Jose social team for their post “Forgot our pads at home”; it was rough! It was great to see Cade, Tommy, and Jamiro turning toward the goal and making several solid attempts. I hope they (and Benji) keep it up and we see opponents’ defenses having to spread out their coverage. Unfortunately, the frustration did end up boiling over with a couple players rushing the group who had questions about Jackson Yueill’s tackle.
Matt: Yes, and San Jose was fined for a second violation of the “mass confrontation rule,” the first one being the racist remark incident against the Red Bulls. Hmmmm. Anyway, I watched a few games this weekend – in part because there was actually an afternoon game – and I’m not going to go all conspiracy theorist on you, I’m just going to say that a few refs were either having a hard time of it or not really reffing. And the Austin game felt like not reffing. If you’re not going to draw the line where the yellow cards will start to fly, players will push it. And this weekend 6 out of 13 games ended in a draw. And I’m going to put myself out there – not all 6 matches were between very similar teams.
Josh: Perhaps too much reliance on “clear and obvious” and VAR? Interesting theory. Coming up, the Live Fault jersey will be on display against LA, Carson, and LA again. I think we’re all excited to see the future World Cup venues be evaluated, as well as MLS playing on larger stages, but playing at Levi’s Stadium is one of another three games away from PayPal Park. After leaving 5 points on the road, I’m hopeful for four total against the rock star LAFC and a Galaxy team that is starting to find its footing. It’s going to be a rough rest of May for our guys.
Matt: Two games against LAFC doesn’t sound like my idea of a good time, but hopefully the Quakes can grab something from the Galaxy, who are only sitting one win above the wooden spoon at this point. I like your approach…maybe looking at the architecture will help me as I watch these matches. But hey, maybe some of that “Goonie” magic will materialize…
Josh: If anywhere, it’s going to be against #BeatLA and in the Clasíco! Vamos SJ!
Quake-o-meter for Games 9 & 10 (Richter goes to 9, OURS goes to 10)
Final Score on the Quake-o-meter Richter Scale: 6/10 - Not bad, but we know they can do better.
Current % chance of a San Jose/New England MLS Cup Final: 45% - while above the cut, SJ is not earning a long postseason yet
Twitter and Instagram: @QuakesCoasts