February 28, 2022, Vol. 2 No. 3
Source: sjearthquakes Instagram
Matt: With the season opener against NY Red Bulls under their belt, the Quakes season is officially underway! It was good to see PayPal Park in action again, Almeyda’s purple sweater (under a sport coat instead of loosely tied around his neck), and your favorite Goonies go up against a team that probably feels lucky to leave San Jose with three points.
Josh: It certainly didn’t end the way we wanted it to, but it was good to see the Blue & Black out on the fancy hybrid pitch again. Unfortunately, the Red Bulls used Goonies power against San Jose, with two of their three goals scored in stoppage time.
Matt: In classic season opener form for most teams, it took a little while for the game to get into a flow, but this team picked up where it left off. This is not always a bad thing - better than starting the season in worse shape than before - but I think the fans will rightfully feel like the challenges of last season haven't been addressed yet. The Red Bulls had just the right approach to get at least one point in San Jose. They patiently pushed and pushed, waiting for the openings. And they got them. While I think the teams were more even than the final score indicated, New York held up defensively to keep the lead. I am a little worried about the Red Bulls conditioning though. There were an awful lot of hamstring and quad cramps in the last ten minutes!
Josh: So true, Matt - the commentators were saying that some of those moments were probably cramps, others just moments to breathe as the Red Bull players hadn’t been used to playing “Double Team All the Time” for 90 minutes yet. And this was clearly a first game for San Jose, which included three new starters, one of whom wasn’t even on the roster for preseason training. You could tell they have not yet found their rhythm downfield, so they weren’t ready to play the “finesse” game that opposing a “hustle” team requires.
Matt: Some interesting stats that shed some light on this game: SJ won possession 70 to 30%, had more than twice as many passes (555 to 250), and many fewer fouls (6 to NYRB 22, 0 yellow cards to 3 NYRB yellow cards). But only 2 shots on target vs 7 for New York. While I’m liking the fact that San Jose was able to avoid going deep into yellow card territory in Game 1, the other stats reinforce the idea of not being productive when in possession of the ball.
Josh: Those stats do give me some comfort, but red flags should go up when there are only two shots on target from a team that started three forwards.
Matt: Nailed it there.
Josh: On the penalties, Remedi has already started collecting those fouls against, and the two card-prone players from last season either didn’t see any minutes (Judson) or weren’t able to continue in Saturday’s game (your buddy, Nathan).
Matt: I didn’t like seeing Nathan going down. According to the Twitterverse there was a question about his knee even before the game - which pulled him out in the 22’. That hurts a team that relies so much on momentum and positive energy.
Josh: Agreed - it’s hard not to feel driven when you have a defender giving enthusiastic fist pumps after every cleared ball. I think we did see Gregus find a gap in the defensive side of the field and step up with some good play on both sides of the ball near the midline. And Tanner Beason came out fired up to remind Almeyda why he’s vital to the defensive line.
Matt: Speaking of defense, the Quakes formation and strategy just couldn’t get it done. JT kept the team in the game, but even he couldn’t produce the miracle needed when the other team had the ball in the box and the defenders were crisscrossing past each other to go…I don’t know, past each other? Tag team defense isn’t very efficient in my book.
Josh: Tag-team and handing off because of crisscrossing is fundamental to a man defense - they kinda needed more of that instead of being clusters of blueberries. And when one NY goal and at least two shots involve the SJ rising star striker as a lone “defender”, something isn’t working. Lots of comments on social about being confused by Jackson Yeuill starting at center back, and Yeuill said so himself in some kickoff interviews - but we can remember him finishing the season playing well back there. You and I have talked about needing that communication from goal to center to center midfield to striker - and there was no voice like that from San Jose.
Matt: Next week the Quakes will hear the strong voice of the Columbus Crew coming into town. Always a tough team to play, and they thumped the Whitecaps (with the help of a red card) 4-0. I think San Jose should put 4 defenders in the back, including both Judson and Marcos Lopez if they’re healthy. Columbus can get frustrated if an opponent sticks around too long, which would work to the Quakes’ advantage.
Josh: I don’t know if those two don’t get along with El Profe or what, but I agree - there’s no reason that a force like Judson and a Peruvian National Team starter should see 0 minutes. And Monteiro’s postgame interview provided some needed positivity. Hopefully we’ll see a San Jose team with communication and technique on the rise! Vamos SJ!
Rating on the Quake-o-meter Scale for Games 1 (Richter goes to 9, OURS goes to 10)
Final Score on the Quake-o-meter Richter Scale: 4.3/10
Current % chance of a San Jose/New England MLS Cup Final: 10%. (It’s still early enough in the season to dream...)