QUAKES ON BOTH COAST, Vol. 1 No. 9
Source: @sanjoseearthquakes on FaceBook
Matt: What an intense 10 days. We were hoping for 4 points out of the three games, and the team earned 5! Three of them from a team they hadn’t beaten since June of 2017, when the Sounders got a red card in the 35th minute! All in all a successful stretch. Let’s do some lightning takeaways - how about exactly 74 words on each game? You go first: What did you think about Houston?
Josh: <deep breath>Take the point! Like Quakes Twitter said - a goal is a goal. I don’t love watching tackle soccer, but that’s apparently Houston’s style, including how they end games! Marcinkowksi was understandably frustrated with the D after the Houston goal. Espinoza continues to get the ball in the right places - Wondo missed a classic opportunity. Rios offside was probably correct, but frustrating. It’s more fun to win with a goalazo, but 1 point!
Matt: SJ looked good, trying to make plays, whereas Houston’s strategy was disrupt and take advantage. The stats reinforced my impression: SJ led possession with 65%, passes 479 to 260, and passing accuracy 83% to 66%. It was an ugly affair - foul after foul after foul. Houston won this stat 19-12, with Houston’s 4 yellows and Quakes’s 1. The waved-off goal at 48’ was disappointing but correct. Fierro deserved the red card, no more please!
Josh: Saturday in Seattle - VICTORY! Snapping 11-game winless streak; 7 years since a win at Seattle! JT Marcinkowski earns MLS Team of the week honors for his great goalkeeping! New formation and it worked. Espinoza finds his footing and sneaks the ball into the bottom corner. They heard me: brought Wondo in at 70’ and Wondo goal, almost. So thankful that the Quakes held on in a LONG stoppage time - a challenge this season.
Matt: The Seattle game was straightforward: the Quakes intercepted passes, kept pressure on, and avoided falling back too far defensively. JT impressed, and earned well-deserved MLS Team of the Week honors! Nathan again topped the effectiveness chart, and Espinoza showed he could take on an expanded role as he pushed the ball in for the lone goal. While the Quakes had been grinding out draws, grinding became an exciting win on Saturday against the Sounders!
Josh: At Portland, Nathan and Alanis controlled the 18-yard box - and the stats show that they held the draw. Chofis made plays, coached ALL-STAR CADE COWELL during set pieces, finished the loose-ball goal - not sure why he sat the 2nd half. Yeuill made his return known. Not cool Jungwirth - Ref could’ve given Sounders a PK. Missed Goonies moment - 11/10, but: One point, even with the squabbles and rain of yellow cards.
Matt: SJ took up space to slow Portland’s drives while pushing the ball and making plays. Spirit Animal Nathan set the tempo early with 2 big takeaways and drives (though a yellow accumulation suspension is coming!). Judson showed his strong defensive presence and JT was downright fantastic, making great stops, including one I had to replay multiple times! SJ’s last win at Portland unfortunately remains February 2014, but it totally could have happened last night.
Josh: BUT, February 2014 was also the last time that SJ didn’t lose at Portland, so another 7-year streak broken! (and I got to say some extra words about that game).
Matt: So….did you get to watch any of the games live?
Josh: Regional blackouts for away games are dumb. And when your team says “watch here!” and the service doesn’t even list MLS as a sport, what are we to do!? Especially during a pandemic, AND during the Summer Olympics, I don’t know why a growing league like the MLS isn’t doing everything possible to get soccer in front of American fans. But I found a legal way to enjoy the Portland game from home on a legit app subscription! If any of our readers are frustrated like I am, hit me up on Twitter; I’m afraid to post here and jinx it.
Matt: Okay, so...<awkward pause>...clearly no strong feeling about this. Well, I’m glad you got to watch the Revs in the meantime. I watch every Revs game, of course, but San Jose would rather keep you as a superfan (and blogcaster) and not lose you to MLS-leading New England Revolution!
Josh: I see what you did there; you had to. And the Revs look great and are easier to watch from across the country!
Matt: Well, we’re a little anxious with Carles Gil out for 3 weeks….but back to the Quakes. Since the Quakes management let go of Fioranelli, the team’s been developing a new identity. This happened in Foxborough in 2019 when the Revs Assistant Coach Mike Lapper replaced Coach Brad Friedel: the Revs demonstrated a dramatic shift for the better. In addition to Lapper showing strong coaching instincts, a number of the Revs indicated that the joy of playing soccer had come back to the team. From what I can see from my vantage point outside of Boston, the same is playing out in the 408.
Josh: I think there’s two things we’re seeing - it looks like Almeyda didn’t jive with Fioranelli, because Coach Matias has become a bigger presence, and started to visibly bring the team together. Secondly, we’re seeing the Quakes front office decide it can finally spend money on the team and players.
Matt: Part of the shift to this “new-look” Quakes team -- in addition to Almeyda’s dapper purple cardigan on full display the last two games -- is new Quake Nathan. He has been a tremendous catalyst for the defense. I think his midfielder experience and irrepressible energy, combined with the almost brick wall-like nature of Judson’s defense, is helping the Quakes stifle opponents’ offensive drives. We saw how quickly Nathan turned interceptions into offense against Portland! And on the same night SJ took a point from the Timbers, they also got an offensive player from them: Jeremy Ebobisse. He has netted 4 goals in 13 appearances this season for the Timbers, but they are jammed up at that spot -- so here he comes to San Jose as another goal-scoring force.
Josh: And the 70’ mega-substitution against Portland showed him and the fans that we’ll put in 4, 6, strikers to try to finish the game in the way it should be. I see Jebo’s stats and I’m excited. I assume the decider people also see that he’ll be a good fit in the team’s attitude and gameplay.
Matt: Looking ahead, the Quakes will be at home for the next three matches against LAFC, Vancouver, and Minnesota. Any predictions?
Josh: I’m the optimist: 3-0 at home! Minnesota and LAFC are the kind of teams that the Quakes need to earn points against to get back on the bubble and send Wondo off via the Playoffs.
Matt: Optimism -- one of your many fine traits. In order to keep collecting points, I think the Quakes need to keep doing what they’ve been doing for the last 5 games: keep the pressure on the other team’s defense, don’t fall back too far defensively, and keep composure under pressure. I think this team is starting to believe in itself, and they get to keep this momentum going in the friendly confines of PayPal Park! I too will be optimistic and predict at least 5, but hopefully 7 points from the next three games.
Josh: The next 10 days can tell us a lot about the remainder of the season - #VamosSJ!
Rating on the Quake-o-meter Scale for Games 15-17 (Richter goes to 9, OURS goes to 10)
Final Score on the Quake-o-meter Richter Scale: 8.25/10
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