Matt: Two road games, two points. This Quakes team, IMHO, is continuing to show what they did against Minnesota on July 3rd wasn’t a one-off: the ability to grind out close games rather than falter. What are your takeaways, Josh?
Josh: Well, I don’t want to look a gift point in the mouth, and the three points in three games, on the road, against upper tier Western Conference teams is a good thing. However, the Quakes are still 5 points away from the Playoff bubble.
Matt: Agreed, there’s much to be done. What’s going well: Nathan has been a great addition (love that play near the end of COL, when Nathan deflected a ball out with a victory shout and fist pump!), so despite Judson being out against Colorado, Almeyda’s defense-heavy strategy scheme paid off. Remedi’s been able to avoid a fifth yellow, and Almeyda successfully rotated Kikanovic in for the start with Wondo subbing in at the half. Wondo did what he needed to do in general - keep the offensive pressure on, but unfortunately not specifically - which was score a goal. Instead of letting Colorado bring the game to them, the Quakes kept pushing for a go-ahead goal, including Wondo’s play at the end to set up a free kick.
Josh: Rewatching the Colorado highlights, Cowell to Chofis was an amazing (and now tied for team-leading) assist and striker combo. It showed me that the squad is tightening up their team play. Marcinkowski, probably due to your advice, seems much more confident and settled in the Keeper box. I’m a Wondo fan, and I don’t think he should be taking free kicks - it doesn’t feel like he’s the strongest one for those moments.
Matt: JT, if you’re reading this (and I don’t think you are, you’re a busy man who needs his rest), keep it up - the game has been coming to you and the defense - or slowing down, depending on your preferred terminology - with the adjustments over the last two weeks, and I’m confident it will keep moving in that direction! Josh, you mention the free kick - set plays have been an issue for the Quakes all season, and I’m not sure who’s going to end up being the go-to guy. We’ve seen a lot of centering passes and lobs go way over the goal or sail high above the box. Now that I’ve said that, I will of course note the lone goal against SKC was a corner/header thanks to Man of the Match Nathan. (Let’s see more of those, SJ!)
Source: sjearthquakes Instagram
Josh: Also in Kansas City, Marcinkowski has a record 7 saves, including some incredibly athletic dives, but the team couldn’t hold on in stoppage time. It didn’t help when Judson got booked and the Quakes had to finish the game with 10 men on the field.
Matt: Sporting did what it wanted to at the end of that game, which is keep driving to the net. Some on Social were calling out the Quakes for not playing keepaway at the end of that game to run the clock, but that’s only part of the story. The game was so chaotic at the end anything could have happened. I don’t know the last time I saw a ref reverse his own penalty-in-the-box call disallowing a home team PK, and the crowd was completely overheated. So were the players, for that matter. That second yellow call on Judson was IMHO a make-up call, and even the Kansas City commentators admitted in the telecast that the replay showed minimal contact, if any, by Judson. As for running out the clock, SKC’s pressure prevented SJ from playing pass for five minutes. And even if the Quakes had been able to pass the ball around in the middle third, there’s always a chance for something to go wrong. The Quakes needed to regain the momentum at the end of the game and I had no problem with them pushing to score a go-ahead goal.
Josh: This part of the season is hard, with key players leaving and rejoining their MLS rosters to play for their national teams, including now two SJ players with Cowell getting the invitation to join the USMNT training camp. We want to see our teams finding their groove in the middle of the season, but since that can’t happen, good coaches are trying out their whole toolbox to see where players and teams can succeed.
Matt: An excellent point. You want your team peaking in September (and October and November), and in July there’s still time to tweak player combos and strategy. And we saw some great teamwork moving the ball around the field in Kansas City, which was lacking at times a couple of months ago.
Josh: The 11, and 12 and 13 and…, on the field are finding their moments to shine, which gets me excited for SJ to avenge their season opener against Houston; invite them into PayPal Park and get some confidence. Because then two hard away games against the 1st in the MLS point holders...
Matt: Let the record show the Revs were in first place for 25 hours! Um, I’m sorry. I cut you off.
Josh: LOL, noted …and a consistent Portland Timbers. I’m hoping for a 1-1-1 record over the next two weeks.
Matt: Again, agreed. Great minds think alike. Houston didn’t look that good against Vancouver on Tuesday night, and if SJ builds on the last three games in the friendly confines of PayPal Park they should gain the 3 points against Houston. And don’t forget, Yeuill and Cowell will be back for the Portland game. If they at least tie one of the games against Seattle or Portland after beating Houston, I will count that as progress. I’ll be frank, I’m not just rooting for this team just for your sake, they are a likable group with tremendous potential. I want them to win every game!
Josh: See - if nothing else, this column had at least one positive impact! Let’s get the team we have healthy, get the Translator back on the bench with Almeyda, and Vamos SJ!!!
Rating on the Quake-o-meter Scale for Games 13-14 (Richter goes to 9, OURS goes to 10)
Final Score on the Quake-o-meter Richter Scale: 7.3/10
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