Welcome back to another post match wrap up from the Soccer Cave! Another matchday has come and gone and more history has been made as City power past San Jose to become the first expansion club to win their first 4 matches. On the back of goals from Joao Klauss, Nico Gioachinni, and Tomas Ostrak and a clean sheet from Roman Burki this team keeps giving us evidence that they are the real deal. The quakes came in missing a couple of players but still managing to look like a real playoff team this year under Luchi Gonzalez but seemed mostly toothless in this match. Let's take a quick look at how we got that 3-0 score line.
Early on in the match there was already a sense that this was going to be a more physical match when Tommy Thompson slid in for a very early challenge on Gioachinni. The rest of the match lived up to that expectation as there were several rough tackles from either side, lots of big attackers using their strength to gain position, and several Yellow Cards. The battles for positioning is what gave Gioachinni and Klauss the advantage on their goals with Nico getting goal-side on the Quakes defender and stabs a foot at the ball to get it past Marcinkowski, and Klauss using his to dribble through and past 4 defenders to put his in the back of the net.
Both of City's first half goals came from turnovers high up the pitch and out of quick and precise counter attacks that a high press is so well known for. These turnovers were abundant as City had managed to make Christian Espinoza largely a non-factor, causing San Jose to try building through the Left side and centrally. City clogged the passing lanes and made it a truly miserable night for the Quakes in St. Louis. Granted this was thanks in large part to Carlos Gruezo having to be subbed off for an injury at the 29' mark. If Gruezo had been able to conduct from the midfield and connect the lines better this is a completely different match.
San Jose did still have their chances, though few and far between. On a slip by John Nelson, Espinoza was able to put a cross that rolled right across the mouth of goal and just barely out of the reach of Cade Cowell in the 53rd minute. A few minutes later in the 61st Espinoza wins another ball in the corner and puts it right at the feet of a wide open Cowell at the penalty spot. Burki had to come up big with a save and did. With that save the players looked to have the energy just pulled out of them. San Jose possession lacked purpose, they weren't winning second balls, they weren't as quick to close down space, and that is what led to the final nail in the coffin.
After Michael Baldisimo was cautioned in the 67th minute, the free kick looked to be stopped, but Espinoza was the one trying to clear the lines and was dispossessed in a very dangerous area. After two or three shot attempts blocked or saved, San Jose failed to win the rebounds and allowed Ostrak to have too much time and space to shoot and the shot was deflected past Marcinkowski.
The way City played from the jump was strong, precise, measured, and relentless. Gioachinni and Lowen were fighting for every 50/50 ball in the air, the wing mids were pinching in to apply a second layer of pressure as soon as the ball was passed forward from the backline, and the City backline swarmed on any attacker (save for Cowell once or twice) who managed to get the ball. Even though possession was in favor of the visitors, they managed only two shots on frame and it is hard to win with shot numbers like that.
At the final whistle, City had the three goals and three points, good enough for top of the table and good enough for a historic start to a historic season in a town long steeped in the rich soccer history of our country. What lies ahead for City? Well for now it is a clash in Utah against Real Salt Lake. Looking further down the road who is to say? The sky is limit it seems and if City (or the Ravioli Boys or Hellcats or whatever you want to call them) can keep playing this high of a level against teams that are high difficulty opponents. Only time will tell if this dream ever has to end.
That is all I have for you today folks. If you have any thoughts you know where to share them. As always thanks for reading and Bye for now!
(Photo credit to Will Bramlett @YBrammer, Banner photo credit to Billy Jansen @HellbenderSTL)