Vol. 2 No. 11, July 18, 2022
Matt: Well, that was an interesting stretch. Skahan plays the hero against Toronto to salvage a point, a 3-goal first half in Carson helps them win the Clasico, and then a classic Quakes collapse after a strong start results in a 2-1 loss against a Dynamo team that is now 2-6-1 in their last eight. Yikes.
Josh: Yikes indeed. 2 games and 71 minutes where the 7 points we thought could happen was right there; and in a brilliant, unexpected way. But here we are, with San Jose back at the (almost) bottom, instead of being 2 points out of the playoff race.
Matt: It’s true the Quakes have a tendency to beat themselves through errant or weak passes and defensive lapses, but I think it’s more important to note that Toronto’s two goals were scored 4 minutes apart and the Dynamo’s two goals were scored five minutes apart. If the Quakes had been able to play with half of the confidence and focus they showed in the first half against Galaxy, they could have gained nine points in the standings rather than four.
Josh: Goodness, and imagine the momentum they’d feel going into this really challenging, and mostly in-conference stretch coming up. The confidence, yes, and who was able to play where, I think really played out over these three games.
Matt: Toronto just flat out beat them fair and square on that first goal. Low shot to the far corner, squeaked in. My problem is with the second goal that occured minutes later when the defense fails under pressure. After a pass from Toronto forward Deandre Kerr ended up at Judson’s feet, Toronto’s Osorio swooped in, picked the ball up off of Judson and ran past the remaining flat-footed SJ defenders to beat Marcinkowski.
Josh: My problem with the first goal was the Quakes’ midfield was nowhere to be found, so Toronto had a lot of grass to get organized and work their way around the defensive line. And I agree - a messy trap instead of a boot, and the cluster of silver & black was all standing to watch the second goal happen. But kudos do have to be given to Jack Skahan and yes, Jackson Yueill for keeping the pressure on until the final whistle, so the second goal could happen.
Matt: I’m so busy pointing out problems, I’ll let you rah-rah the Clasico. To be fair, it was a GREAT first half.
Josh: It was a great first half of the Clasíco - what’s not to like!? Good teamwork, good hustle, and taking advantage of a messy Carson defense. Not sure if Galaxy were struggling because of the players missing due to health protocols or what, but glad to see the good guys rise to the occasion. And to give credit where it’s due, the two LAG goals in the second half were pretty impressive - just glad the 408 already had three in the bank.
Matt: At least those two goals were 40 minutes apart. The goal at the end was largely due to a lapse in the midfield. I would have felt better if one more goal had gone in for San Jose to make it 4-1, but that would have meant that EVERY SINGLE SHOT ON GOAL would have gone in. The Boys in Blue had 4 out of 11 shots on target, while LAG had 8 of 25 shots on target. That tells me: 1. More clinical finishes from the Quakes will be crucial for them to win more matches, and 2. Marcinkowski is a much better GK than some on social give him credit for.
Josh: I’m team Marcinkowski, and thankfully the Team of the Week voters agree with us. Your friend Benji is climbing in the assists category, and earning that repeating starting spot. Also, one player we’re really seeing come into his own is Marcos López. His pressure and hustle on every side of the pitch really made a difference in Toronto and LA. It’s too bad that his reasonable and smart penalties accumulated just in time to miss the very important Houston matchup back at home.
Matt: Totally agree about López. We were seeing that with accumulating playing time both with the Quakes and the Peruvian national team. IMHO, the Quakes are working steadily through the adjustment away from Almeyda’s system, but we’re seeing hiccups. After a goal, I think some of the man-marking habits jump back in, possibly partly also due to fatigue. Against Houston, Yueill sent a slow pass back to the defense without noticing Houston’s pressure, resulting in a turnover right in front of the goal. Five minutes later, the Quakes defense let themselves get cornered, a playground scrum broke out, the ball went in front of the goal, and Úlfarsson megged Nathan with a strong shot to the far post. JT was not happy about the play that led up to that goal, and I don’t blame him.
Josh: Absolutely. In the first half, it felt like San Jose was reading Houston’s playbook and held them strong with a plan to exploit the fatigue in the second half. But instead, a couple of miscommunications while fresh legs and a spread out Dynamo capitalize. And you know, I’d play a little hesitant if the other team was American Football tackling me out there in midfield, too.
Matt: Looking back, you predicted 7 points, I said potentially 5-7. I settled on LAG being their toughest game, though (hindsight alert) I had initially thought Toronto would be their toughest opponent. Speaking just for myself, I’m afraid I have to pay more attention to the potential for these 2-goals-in-five-minutes-for-the-opposing-team sequences.
Josh: That’s where this scrappy San Jose team comes together. When Ebobisse scored in Toronto, the commentators said - he doesn’t score every game, but if he does, he usually scores a couple. It feels like getting the ball in the net boosts this team, especially players like Espinoza who get rocket legs to cut off a lazy pass in the midfield. And if it’s energy and motivation they need, then maybe starting to rotate in some subs closer to 60 minutes would be a better strategy?
Matt: Looking ahead, the Quakes are at Portland on the 23rd, then play another “3 games in 8 days” sequence, home against RSL and Miami, then away at Austin. Austin is playing well this season, locking down 41 points for second place in the West. Miami is really good at needling opponents, then letting them beat themselves, but Miami won’t have the advantage of watching a visiting team wilt in the humidity. I put RSL (sitting a distant 3rd in the West) as their toughest opponent right now - the Salt Lakers played a relentless 90 minutes against San Jose at home and blanked them with two clinical finishes last June 18th.
Josh: Don’t forget the friendly against CEL on Wednesday. Hopefully it will be a good opportunity for the rotation squad who has been shining with Quakes II to come earn some minutes with the core team.
Matt: Yes, this team needs to build up its bench. The Revs have a player - Jon Bell - they acquired from San Jose 2 years ago, and he is gradually developing into a defensive player who has made some monster stops in the last few weeks. While I’m happy he’s in Foxborough, the Quakes could use someone like that right now to help address late-game fatigue. Hmmmm.
Josh: Mr. Leitch - how soon can we someone fill that Calvo-sized hold in the backfield?
Matt: Excellent point. I already miss having Calvo on my fantasy team.
Josh: Portland is going to be hungry to break into the bubble, and maybe RSL will think they have it made, but Austin at Q2 is unforgiving. The Goal Differential that Miami is carrying gives me hope that the Blue & Black can use the non-conference game to grab some points. The once-weekly schedule after this block will feel like a vacation! I’m going with 9 points during this stretch, but I bet it won’t play out in the accumulation that I’m keeping to myself.
Matt: 9? I’d only put money on 4 at this point, but if they get more than 6 I’ll buy you a gift card to Dunkin’ Donuts. Sound good?
Josh: Sounds great - and there are Dunkin’s out here now! As always, Quakes - hydrate and stretch! The Goonies faithful have got your back to see this grind pay off. VAMOS SJ!!
Rating on the Quake-o-meter Scale for Game 19, 20, 21 (Richter goes to 9, OURS goes to 10)
Final Score on the Quake-o-meter Richter Scale: 5.2/10
Current % chance of a San Jose/New England MLS Cup Final: 25% it’s going to be hard for both teams, but we still have our eye on it.