Matt: Hi Josh, I bet you’re sleeping well in CA after that exhilarating win against DC. These last two weeks have shown a significant improvement all around for the Quakes, not just in the final score. Is the Quakes part of your brain sleeping better than it was two weeks ago?
Josh: Absolutely. Seeing them hustle at home against Dallas and then DC United was much more comforting than the first weekend. And in both games, we got to see multiple players deliver some excellent soccer.
Matt: Similar to the game against the Revs the previous week, DC’s approach seemed to be to disrupt and take advantage of chances when they happen. To be fair, DC has struggled with injuries at the beginning of the season, and many teams in their position would do the same.
Josh: For me, focusing on the other team’s play and disrupting or attempting to redirect the action is a lot of wasted energy. Focused energy & momentum are what a handful of San Jose players are all about right now. I turned on the home opener and was quickly thinking, “Wait. Who’s #44 again?” It was obvious Cowell was willing to run down the ball and out-hustle the other team.
Matt: I might sound like I’m just retweeting, but Cade Cowell is making his case for a consistent number 10. At the same time, it must be said: it’s teamwork that’s getting the wins in the books. And that’s what I liked from the Revs last week and the Quakes this week - they worked together to make scoring chances happen. Pass after excellent pass and perfect assists that kept the ball moving quickly toward the goal. Whether it’s Espinoza’s assists, bangers by Marie and Yueill, or the tenacious D all around in their third of the field, this is a team effort.
Josh: Ha ha - The name “Tenacious D” is already taken and is not looking as sharp as the Earthquakes right now. Oh my gosh - Fierro with the save of Week 2, if not the first half of the season. As a fan, it is nice to have the team protecting a lead instead of spending the last 20 minutes chasing a clincher.
Matt: No doubt. If Fierro doesn’t make that amazing goal stop against Dallas, the momentum likely shifts and so does the game. Against DC the following week, Jungwirth also makes a great stop at the goal line and keeps the Quakes’ momentum going in the 84th minute.
Josh: A composed and deliberate defense - that’s what we didn’t see in the first week of the season. The San Jose white jerseys were scrambling in the Box, making Marcinkowski’s job twice as hard.
Matt: Some stats that look good for the Quakes: Shot Differential vs. Opponent. Game 1: -9, Game 2: -7, Game 3: +6. Has anyone ever called that SDVO? If not, you read it here first!
Josh: If not, we can certainly make it happen - SDVO, it just rolls off the tongue. And in Week 3, the game with the best SDVO, the Quakes Midfield really locked in and came through. It makes sense.
Matt: Also, while San Jose’s passing accuracy is consistent in all three games around 80%, they won only two corner kicks against Houston (draw) while winning five against Dallas (win) and five more against DC (win). That reflects the hustle, the “wanting it more” than the other team. And they did it without Wondo, their leader on the field. I love it when this happens. Opportunity knocks - or crisis descends! - and teammates rise up to carry the load. I’m sure Wondo is as excited as anyone -- he’s a team player and wants to win in his final year!
Josh: Ah! You’re so quick to jump past one of the interesting Referee moments of this part of the season. Watching those replays, and then flip-flopping about Wondo’s red card! I mean, I get that rules and cards are built on preventing reckless or dangerous play. But two out of three angles look like Wondo’s cleats landed on the calf by no action or choice, and no injury to the other player. So making that call in the final minutes of the game feels a little rough. But yes - let’s give him a great send off in the remainder of the season!
Matt: Looking ahead, SJ travels to Real Salt Lake for a 5/7 matchup. This looks like the first full test of the Quakes. Statistically they are very similar, and RSL played well against MNUFC and SKC to go 2-0-0. This week may bring some surprises or unexpected roster changes, but right now I think the winner of SJQ vs. RSL is going to be the team who wants it the most.
Josh: Hopefully the team can take their momentum on the road! Oh my gosh - Matt. I teased you about the new turf at PayPal Park - did you see the whole sizzle reel on the Earthquakes Instagram? I was tickled. But yeah - playing on a different surface and in a different environment changes a lot!
Matt: Okay, okay, I missed the turf teaser...I guess I was too busy watching clips of Carles Gil breaking defenders’ ankles, Matt Turner’s top-notch work in the goal, Brandon Bye making goals happen against DC and Atlanta, ultimately taking them down 2-1...Sorry. Back to San Jose! Five days after RSL, they’ll host one of the most complete teams in the league: the Seattle Sounders. And if that wasn’t enough fun, they’ll host Portland 3 days after that. This will be a tough stretch, and one that will reveal the depth and endurance this team is capable of.
Josh: I wish that there were ways to watch the home games for non-Season Ticket holders! I’m thankful for the MLS putting some games up on Twitter, but the blackout contracts are frustrating for a growing league and team! And the league has to know that people (not me, of course) will find ways to watch the game - just make it easy and legal!
Matt: Can I safely assume you are a fan of the new PayPal Park Player Platform Pass Over?
Josh: I can’t wait to cheer on the players on the pass. I’m for any part of the stadium or the game that brings the players and the fans together. For me, that’s what I enjoy about the Quakes: a real connection, or spirit of “Playing for the 408” with this team. Do you get the same feeling from the Revs games?
Matt: I do. We don’t have a PPPPPPO at Gillette, but there is (when there are no pandemics) Autograph Alley. Two major factors have to be 1. still chasing the team’s first MLS Cup and 2. having a group of high-caliber people, not just players, on and off the field. Can I also point out one more thing? For 22 hours (thanks for nothing, Seattle!), both New England and San Jose were in first place in their conferences. It’s a long season ahead for both teams, but maybe we’ll see this again soon!
Josh: You can always point out moments like that; it’s worth celebrating. And it definitely helps our MLS Final likelihood rating! We’ll see how that changes over the next few weeks. Like you said, some good teams are headed to San Jose - but the Quakes are ready for them. Vamos SJ!
Quake-o-meter Scale for Games 2 & 3 (Richter goes to 9, OURS goes to 10)
Final Score on the Quake-o-meter Richter Scale: 8.7/10
Current % chance of a San Jose/New England MLS Cup Final: trending upward to 10%
Twitter: @massmatt_matt @joshuaglenn