Source: sjearthquakes Instagram
Matt: Two games on the road, the cold one in Philly, a balmy 50 degree game in Minnesota a week later. Gotta love the unpredictable nature of spring!
Josh: If you don’t like the weather here, just wait five minutes - Mark Twain. Did I do that right?
Matt: *deep sigh*
Josh: I do love the unpredictable nature of Spring. I also wish that our San Jose team’s scores had been more unpredictable and varied.
Matt: While San Jose’s opponents in these two games were very different from each other, the result was unfortunately the same. Philly, though clearly frustrated by San Jose’s ability to stick around (23 fouls to the Quakes’ 12), is a very fast, efficient team that is able to generate scoring chances with little warning. Minnesota played at a slower pace that was similar to San Jose’s, but they were able to take advantage of many defensive lapses and turnovers in San Jose’s third of the pitch.
Josh: Indeed. And I think that’s why so many fans, like us, are feeling so frustrated. The Blue & Black couldn’t seem to break through their opponent, regardless of the strategy. And San Jose’s third of the pitch did seem to be a consistent issue, and has been since the season started. It may have been different with Nathan back there, but we won’t know until he is safe to return to the lineup.
Matt: I can’t wait. And while we’re waiting, I have to give tremendous credit to JT for these last two games. While it’s easy to pile on a keeper when the team loses, JT kept the Quakes within one or two when both games could have ended 6-0 or 4-0. While San Jose learned some lessons and very hard truths about themselves in defending the cross against Philadelphia, there were still several plays in Minnesota when JT found himself defending the net alone, made the right move, and saved a goal.
Josh: Between the two games, the opponents scored three goals on 25 shots with 11 on target. That is a sign that the Quakes Keeper is working hard. And it’s a sign that Philly and MNUFC had lots of opportunities in the back third. With only 1 shot on target from the crew up front, San Jose did not make or take a lot of opportunities to recover, and how can anyone expect a better outcome. Are you impressed with my stats citing?
Matt: Listen to you with the numbers. So impressed! Now the challenge round! One: What is a specific adjustment you think they could make for the next game, like the adjustment defending crosses better they seem to have made after Philly? And Two: What aren’t they doing that they could be doing?
Josh: I hate to say it, because I know he’s a good player, and I’ve seen him make plays happen, but right now, I think the change has to come around Jackson Yeuill. Something is not clicking with Coach Almeyda’s experiment of moving him to the back line to be more of a “field general.” Maybe he moves up to an attacking midfielder, maybe he switches out when Remedi gets into yellow card trouble, but he’s not leading from the back, or producing in the back. If you don’t believe me, watch the “highlights” video from the Philly game - there’s a lot of Jackson getting smoked in the backfield.
Matt: Works for me. I have visions of Quakes defenders following an opposing striker toward their own goal imprinted on my retinas, so I’d be a fan of having someone consistently back there effectively intercepting or at least slowing the counterattack. Too many Quakes are getting outraced by opponents while trying to get back on defense. And no, you can’t have Andrew Farrell. The Revs are in the middle of their own slump right now and can’t spare him.
Josh: And the second question - what aren’t they doing…they aren’t scoring. Put three or four of these high performing players up front and tell them to take the shot. It is four games into the season, and Chofis has taken two shots on goal. Cade Cowell has had very few minutes. Monteiro is back from suspension. Ebobisse needs to have the ball up front to create the excitement he’s known for.
Matt: You’re so John Madden. It’s awfully hard to win games without scoring goals, and even harder to score goals without taking shots. Until Nathan is back and SJ can anchor the defense around Nathan, Judson, and Beason (just my personal preference there), let the offense be creative and keep developing their chemistry. And let’s hear it for Will Richmond, one of San Jose’s newly signed homegrown players, who played a little over 20 minutes in each of the last two games!
Josh: Yes! I do appreciate how Coach Almeyda is giving the young kids minutes, even when the team doesn’t have a comfortable lead - it should pay off later in the season. But right now, El Profe has two weeks, one left, to take the team to school. I’m really hoping to see them emerge a more confident and cohesive squad, maybe even in person, against Austin on April 2. Vamos SJ!!
Rating on the Quake-o-meter Scale for Games 3 & 4 (Richter goes to 9, OURS goes to 10)
Final Score on the Quake-o-meter Richter Scale: 4.4/10
Current % chance of a San Jose/New England MLS Cup Final: 5% –
but only because there’s a LOT of season left.