QOBC Vol. 2 No. 13 August 8, 2022
Photo: @sjearthquakes on Instagram
Josh: A lot going on within and around the pitch; unfortunately not a lot that will be moving our beloved Earthquakes into the postseason. The Blue & Black and I had our sights set on nine points over this stretch, but only made it to 2.
Matt: Sorry, no Dunkin’ this time. And no donuts for the team, either. Unless the team makes some significant acquisitions (WHICH THEY MIGHT BY THE TIME WE POST), I think other teams have the Quakes’ number and know how to exploit the SJ defense. The Quakes also aren’t moving the ball fast enough right now in the final third to press consistently and get quality shots on goal.
Josh: Are you familiar with “manifesting”? So our readers know, you added that placeholder statement and then two big Defensive drops from the San Jose front office. It was just too good to edit out. Many fans, and we, are excited to hear that Carlos Akapo will join the Quakes defense from La Liga, and Rodrigues will also be on loan from Gremio - especially with a second strong Defender leaving this Summer; Marcos López heading to Holland. Also, Jackson Yueill was all but out the door in Charlotte’s usage of the trade window. So I bet there’s more to come there, maybe in the Winter trade window.
Matt: These challenges were all before reinforcements were inbound. Hopefully these signings, once on the pitch, will help those of us who have been missing Calvo and are concerned about filling López’s boots. It should be said - on the business side, the player movement is good for the overall health of the organization. The Quakes are showing they have decided to not be content to be a team where players’ careers could go to meander and possibly fade. This would make San Jose a more attractive team for players in the future.
Josh: I agree, and it also seems like MLS, in general, is getting that reputation. It was known as the “retirement league” and felt that way, but has been getting more exciting, local and international talent coming to make their name known! For our Earthquakes, the last 10 days were a challenging, tiring schedule, and that’s what we saw on the field. But I suppose we should get into some of the highlights and challenges - why don’t you go first?
Matt: First up, Portland. Espinoza to Ebobisse… and then losing in the 94th minute. Despite the Quakes penchant for conceding late goals, which has happened way too often this year, there are some signs of improvement. Overall, the Quakes are moving the ball a little faster on the pitch and trying to generate more offensive opportunities, including corner kicks. But they need to be faster in order to catch opposing defenses out of position.
Josh: Portland is always a challenge, and we were all in for the first half, but yeah, it seemed to fall off from there. The overly-physical (my paragraph, my opinions) Portland Timbers will wear a team down and be able to get their points at home. And Benji called it out in the postgame presser: the team has to figure out how to stop leaking goals. Then there was Celta de Vigo, where we fans also got excited - seeing the young team hold their own in an international friendly!
But back to MLS - what did you think about RSL?
Matt: An absolutely brilliant goal-line save by Nathan in the 47’. RSL sent a beautiful through ball past Nathan, who owned it and got there to back up JT who had been forced to to come forward. The RSL GK MacMath erred in the 62’, accidentally sending the ball to Espinoza, who quickly reversed it to Ebobisse, who directed it the rest of the way. Sadly, it was only a tie because they conceded the late goal due to the defense out of position on the left side.
Josh: Yes, the result wasn’t what we were hoping for - especially when one of the goals is a freebie closed out by Espinoza, but a tie against RSL this season is a success. And we, the fans got to see Nathan returning to peak form, with the highlight you mentioned and many throughout this week - including a season-leading 7 shots by a Defender against Miami!
Matt: Miami proved to be a tough opponent. While they can struggle against a cohesive opponent, Miami were able to beat the Quakes player-to-player, which got them the 3 points. The goal Miami scored was a banger to the top right corner, one which would have gone past most GKs. More goal-line heroics, including the header by Beason at the sticks to keep it close. Matt Bersano handled himself well coming in at halftime, making 3 huge saves, a couple at point-blank range, starting his MLS career with 0 goals conceded.
Josh: JT ended up sitting out the Austin match for protocol - and Bersano was ready to step up - but we would all love to see JT healthy and safe to play again. I agree about Miami - it was 97 minutes of watching the Quakes get outrun and/or the back line being completely lopsided, leaving half the field wide open for a good pass and a run at the goal. Although midfield to the 18-yard was problematic (at best), inside the 18-yard Nathan, Beason, and Ågren were amazing support for both JT and Bersano.
Matt: Thankfully everything changed in Austin - and the rest of the league. On a day when a record 57 goals were scored in one day, breaking the previous record of 46 in 2017 and 2020, the Quakes were the ones with the late equalizer in a lit/100/fire emoji 3-3 tie.
Josh: I mean, it’s not, but it is? Austin applied a lot of pressure on the defensive line, playing a “full-pitch press” for most of the game, but the Quakes had some luck, some smarts, and managed to grab the point from the waning minutes of regulation. I’m not convinced Benji’s goal wasn’t a failed trap…
Matt: Don’t try too hard…
Josh: …but Paul Marie’s shot from almost midfield was smart - Austin’s goalie was out of place after a successful box and he took that shot that he’s probably been practicing since he was twelve to blast it into the top left corner. Third goal was yet another perfectly placed cross from Cristian Espinoza to King “Head it Down” Jebo. And the team from 408 can head back to recover in San Jose, feeling confident that they do have what it takes. That confidence will be necessary for the next two matches.
Matt: Confidence, and anything else they can get their hands on, will help. Dallas is coming off of a disappointing 1-1 tie against Portland and ready to bury their next opponent, and LAFC is riding high on an MLS-leading 51-point first place position...but it’s not impossible. Right?
Josh: Not statistically! I mean, it will basically require winning the rest of the calendar, including a bunch of away games, of which has not been a success story of this season (only 1 so far). But you know what, we’re here for it! Vamos SJ!
Rating on the Quake-o-meter Scale for Game 22, 23, 24, & 25 (Richter goes to 9, OURS goes to 10)
Final Score on the Quake-o-meter Richter Scale: 5.9/10
Current % chance of a San Jose/New England MLS Cup Final: 5% - Neither team is qualified right now, and it’s a long shot for the Blue & Black - but it’s not impossible.