QOBC Vol. 2 No. 14 August 21, 2022
Photos: @sjearthquakes on Instagram
Josh: Major news from our friends the Earthquakes sandwiched by hot and cold games - what a couple of weeks!
Matt: Oh, Dallas. So depressing. Totally outplayed. BUT THEY CAME BACK AND EDGED OUT LAFC.
Josh: So exciting! Let’s get through the hard stuff. What to say - Dallas set the mood three minutes in and it just felt like punching down for the next hour. The Earthquakes defense was shredded and the curse of the road was in full swing.
Matt: Let’s look at the stats and try to find some signs of life. Here are even or near-even stats: Shots (10-10), Red Cards (DAL 0 - SJ 0) and Yellow Cards (DAL 2 - SJ 1). Uneven stats: Shots On Target (DAL 6 - SJ 2), Possession (DAL 37% - SJ 63%), Passing Accuracy (DAL 79% - SJ 88%), Chances Created (DAL 2 - SJ 0), Corners (DAL 2 - SJ 7), Fouls (DAL 11 - SJ 7), and Offsides (DAL 0 - SJ 2).
Josh: Scoring on Corners has been a, pardon me, cornerstone of Earthquakes 2022, but it didn’t happen against Dallas – and neither of those Offsides calls retracted a goal, so I’m not mad at the hustle. Ebobisse tried to change the tone by thundering a late goal to break the shutout, and Coach Covelo put in a group of “stop the bleed” fresh players, but it wasn’t even close to enough.
Matt: The Dallas heat and humidity is always a factor, and Dallas always compounds it by starting in fifth gear. And Dallas is going for it this year, bringing in Lletget (from the Revs nonetheless) to feed it to Ferreira (who’s not being shopped around yet) to make it 6 USMNT starters against San Jose that night.
Josh: What do you think? Are the issues the Great 408 are facing solvable? What would you fix?
Matt: As a fan, what would I like to see? Fewer defensive collapses and late game errors. Is that physical or mental conditioning? Maybe with Gonzalez’s USMNT experience he will bring more nuance to working with moving parts that will help address the Quakes’s issues.
Josh: That’s right - our readers aren’t always the most tuned in to all the MLS happenings, so: On August 17, the club announced they finally made a decision on replacing Coach Almeyda and are welcoming Coach Luchi Gonzalez for the 2023 campaign. Interim Coach Covelo will finish out the 2022 season, while Coach Gonzalez finishes his term as assistant for the World Cup-bound USMNT. Initial thoughts?
Matt: While lame duck coach scenarios can be tricky, I think this was a good move and timeline. IMHO Calvelo is in a win-win situation. SJ is still climbing its way out of the Almeyda era, and if the team pulls in a lot of points in the final games, Calvelo looks good. If not, so be it. This is also good for planning. It can start now, not in December.
Josh: Although he says he’s not a romantic, I’m a fan of this situation - where the Coach comes back to the team that brought him into the professional ranks 20 years ago. And he sounds committed to seeing the Quakes return to the upper tier, where they often were when he was drafted - setting sights on playoffs in one year and finals in less than five!
Matt: I agree it works here. Enough time has passed that there shouldn’t be any concerns about coach-player dynamics (barely working out in terms of Wondo!) and he has perspective and experience that a lot of players want to take what they can from - international experience and relationships with the US Soccer. So…the Boys in Blue came back and handed an L to LAFC! Hit it!
Josh: Yes, let’s! LAFC and the Quakes played a very physical and aggressive game, illustrated by the double-booking against LAFC and a couple of game-delaying squabbles. You know I’m a fan of Tommy Thompson, but I thought from minute 10 he was going to have a special game - and it came true via two amazing end line assists. Cristian Espinoza also played an amazing game, outrunning LAFC defensemen and getting the ball to roll across the 6-yard line just waiting for a blue jersey to tap it in multiple times. Thankfully he also got credit for the assists and now moves into fourth most assists in Earthquakes history!
Matt: So many things to like, and likable players, you just named two of them. LAFC showed a little disrespect with their weaker lineup, and SJ made them pay.
Josh: It got scary though - LAFC did not go down without a fight - the ball was rolling around the 18 in the last stretch of time, even though they had one fewer player out on the pitch. Thankfully they seemed to get distracted with dramatic non-penalties and physically attacking Jamiro Monteiro.
Matt: The Quakes were definitely living rent-free in LAFC’s heads after Benji’s 14’ goal. And the moment you have your opponents thinking “we should be winning this thing,” you’ve planted that doubt. (Have you heard of manifesting?) And Sánchez’s second yellow was a result of that desperately playing too close to the line - a clear spiking as a result of a (frankly no-chance) late challenge. Most importantly, the Boys of the 408 were successful because they moved the ball faster. Benji’s goal was partly the result of an off-balance LAFC defense due to ball movement, and it was AWESOME to see Cade KRAKEN Cowell one-time it, rather than get caught up in a dribble trap in front of the goal. That’s the result of maturing, and something we need to see more of - and I think we will. But the Quakes tried to give it away - I watched the last few minutes several times, and there was no one culprit - it was a total team lack of focus that repeatedly sent the ball backward toward their own goal. My GK in residence gives major props to JT, who came out with arms up to force Arango to go to his left and miss the shot, saving those precious three points.
Josh: So the Blue & Black aren’t at the bottom of the bracket. Can they continue trending upward as we move into the Fall?
Matt: Time for math and dreams. Right now the #7 slot is open to a team with 35 points, 8 more than SJ currently has. They also would have to leapfrog five teams in eight games. For me, that’s a SKC shootout, Vancouver maybe, Cincinnati nope, Colorado nope, Dallas areyoukiddingme, LAG maybe, Minnesota theydon’tevenknow, and Seattle, maybe because they’ll be resting players in anticipation of the playoffs. If I’m the coach (DM me, Quakes!), it’s a one game at a time situation. You can only control what you can control, and as the Revs showed us in 2020, if you take care of your own business, good things can happen.
Josh: Can they break the road curse against the team currently at the bottom of the Western Conference? And then keep this goal-scoring momentum against Vancouver, who has a worse goal differential than SJ? I’m gonna do it - plant my 6 points flag and our Quakes will be back on the bubble by Labor Day. Vamos SJ!
Quake-o-meter for Game 26 & 27 (Richter goes to 9, OURS goes to 10)
Final Score on the Quake-o-meter Richter Scale: 5.8/10
Current % chance of a San Jose/New England MLS Cup Final: HAHAHAHAHA% or 1% - cuz there’s actually a lot of season left.