Earthquakes Face Real-World Issues, Red Bulls, SKC, Come Out Stronger and Ready to Move Forward.
QOBC Vol. 3 No. 6 - April 20, 2023
Photo: @sjearthquakes, Instagram
Josh: Sorry for the late publication of this episode, but it has been a busy time for me - thankfully, mostly good to great things, but not a lot of downtime to discuss our Boys in Blue & Black. Where to start?
Matt: Back to the beginning: San Jose travels to New Jersey to take on the Red Bulls. You wouldn’t be surprised to know that I’m not a fan of theirs, either geographically or in their style of play. But that aside, they’ve clearly not played to their potential so far this season.
Josh: Yes, and let’s start with the gameplay. New York played their way and the Quakes really stepped up. They responded well to the fast paced and physical game play. I think the work that they’ve clearly been doing around crisp, clean, constant passing paid off. And some of the players, especially Jackson Yeuill, really stepped up to meet the demands of the match.
Matt: San Jose had a great game plan - a balanced 4-3-3 formation coupled with the pressure to take the Red Bulls’ game both to them and away from them. The Quakes were not in the mood to be bullied around that night.
Josh: And then the event and long moment that consumed most of the media around this match: In the 53rd minute, our man Judson made a dangerous play, which stopped play and understandably got the adrenaline pumping. From what we could see in the broadcast, NYRB Designated Player Vanzier said something that incensed Jeremy Ebobisse, Jamiro Monteiro, and Jonathan Mensah. Play stopped for almost 20 minutes while the medics worked, tempers flared, Captains were huddled, and time was protected by the Officials to allow players to calm down. Jeremy Ebobisse made it clear to the Officials and to the Press afterward that the Red Bulls’ player used a racist remark. During the stoppage time, Coach Luchi apparently encouraged the New York Manager to pull the player off the field, as well as offering to his team that they could walk out on the game. Both the opposing Manager and the team declined and play eventually resumed. On Tuesday, the player apologized publicly and stepped away, pending MLS Disciplinary investigation. On Thursday, he was fined and suspended from 6 upcoming matches and blocked from all exhibitions until the suspension is complete. While we’re obviously not going to fix racism in sports with our column, any thoughts on how this was handled?
Matt: For a league that says there is no room for racism, this wasn’t enough of a response. Even the fact that Vanzier ADMITTED he dropped the racial slur (trying to soften it by saying it wasn’t directed at anyone?) didn’t merit more than a 6 game suspension? In my opinion Vanzier should be gone for the rest of the season, and maybe take that 6-game suspension and put it on the Red Bulls Coach, who didn’t step up and do the right thing. In addition, I would be completely fine – with this game and any game for any team in the future – that in a situation where it is clear, not a he said vs. he said situation, that player’s team forfeits the match. Or maybe has to play the next home game without fans (as in, no ticket sales for the home team). I’m up for either.
Josh: Those seem like reasonable consequences to me too. I mean, when the offending player has stayed in the match for 20+ minutes after his horrible action, and the equalizing goal is scored in the 19th minute of stoppage time, I do feel like there was a missed opportunity to at least vacate the draw. I looked through the rule book and it looks like vacating results is only an option when the club is found to be at fault. But 50 minutes where the Red Bulls would be playing 10 players would’ve been a very different game and really likely a different result.
Matt: In my opinion, the club became at fault when the Red Bulls coach didn’t sub off Vanzier immediately. I can only hope that behind MLS closed doors there is a real conversation and plan for the 2024 season and beyond happening. We’ve all been in situations where you didn’t know what you were going to do until you were in it, but that time is now and MLS should lead the soccer world when it comes to issues of racism and inclusion. Period.
Josh: Yep - agreed. Probably should’ve done an off-cycle episode for that one, because we could keep going, but it is good that we got to see the story unfold before offering our perspective. On to happier times - watching the Quakes crush Sporting KC!
Matt: Last place Kansas City faced the same 4-3-3 formation that worked against the Red Bulls, and nine minutes in, Cowell crossed to Espinoza who netted it. A 38’ SKC red card handed a PK to Ebobisse, who nailed it and Quakes never looked back. San Jose forced SKC to beat them from the left, and they couldn’t. I loved Espinoza’s leadership, Ebobisse with the brace, Cowell’s strengthening vision and choices in the final third.
Josh: If I’m counting correctly, that’s our first #SJ74 recap of the season, right? Nicely played! I did miss the match, so I’ve seen the video highlights, and am in progress on watching the whole match, but I’m excited about the result. And the passing! A 25-pass build up for the longest in MLS in 2023? That’s a record that the 408 should be proud of.
Matt: While I was cautiously optimistic about Leitch’s Quakes 3.0 in mid-February, Gonzalez has clearly led this team to a good place. Like we saw glimmers of at the end of last season, the Quakes are Starting XI and bench are each continuing to play to their strengths and pick each other up. The FO may also have allowed for enough defensive adjustments so fans can have some faith that the team will hold the lead or the draw and not lose points in the last five minutes. JT has 3 clean sheets and the offense is looking more and more potent.
Josh: So exciting! This area wants to root for the Quakes so badly, and it’s great to see an excellent product out on the field to support. And players are getting USMNT-MLS-Edition nods - shoutout to Cade Cowell (starting XI) and Jackson Yeuill. The pundits were kinda down on Cade’s performance on the international stage, but as you said, he’s been finding his moments as a very fast winger with the Quakes, so possibly it was the position and how it is played conflicting with his focus with his home team.
And now, a real quick version of everybody’s favorite segment: Kit Talk! The One Planet Kit is looking sharp this year, messages on the body, and the Quakes in the dark colorway (your Revs in the Ocean Aqua). I might need to set up a GoFundMe for this jersey. What do you and your panel of experts think?
Matt: This was a solid hit all the way around. I personally like the Ocean Aqua, but my other Kit enthusiast likes the (Quakes-appropriate) blue and black. Kit stans may note this is basically the same as the Peruvian Sporting Cristal club’s Earth Day kit, but that doesn’t take anything away from it IMHO. The overall concepts and designs have improved over the years from the solid color 2018 parley jerseys. The hand drawn ocean floor pattern is a nice change from water/algae/maybeanaquaticblob patterns, though a quick look back made me a little nostalgic for the seafoam 2020 parley jerseys that didn’t end up happening. Let’s try them again in 2024!
Josh: Might as well - it’s not like we got to enjoy them before the world closed! Upcoming, the San Jose squad has a road trip with three games in 8 days - at RSL, US Open Cup play in Monterey Bay, and back to Q2 stadium in Austin. For the MLS matches, it would be great to bring home some points on the road and RSL is the more likely to be the ice-breaker. First round of the US Open Cup usually means we’ll get to see the young first team players starting off - hopefully Niko if he’s healthy, maybe even Emi in goal.
Matt: 3 points on the road would be great, and I am going to play the role of optimist and say the Quakes can get 6 in the coming weeks. RSL is hot and cold and Austin seems to be misfiring right now, much to the dismay of their verde fanbase. You make a good point about the youngsters – maybe in the Open Cup AND one of the next two regular season games we could see them get some minutes.
Josh: A lot of soccer worth watching is coming up! Hopefully we’ll be able to focus on the gameplay and all the players will be treated right. I know it’s possible, so I’m also keeping my sights set on a 6-point road trip. Vamos SJ!
Quake-o-meter for Games 7 & 8 (Richter goes to 9, OURS goes to 10)
Final Score on the Quake-o-meter Richter Scale: 8.4 /10 - is the highest we’ve rated them yet?
Current % chance of a San Jose/New England MLS Cup Final: 62% - San Jose in 5th in the division…
Twitter and Instagram: @QuakesCoasts