QOBC Vol. 2 No. 7 April 19, 2022
Josh: I know it’s a little early for us to be posting again, but we can’t let this big week go by without a quick chat from Quakes on Both Coasts.
Matt: So many things to talk about! It was great to see Nathan back, Ebobisse was named to TOTW for a second week in a row with his free kick over the wall and kicking it in on a corner kick play, the team forced 8 corners to Nashville’s 1, they kept pace with Nashville for shots on target… and are you ready to talk about the coaching situation?
Josh: Let’s start with Saturday afternoon. The rain cleared and the Earthquakes were able to keep up with a middle-of-the-division team, grabbing a third point on the season. Celebrate the little victories, right?
Matt: Absolutely. Defensive success is important right now, and would have changed the outcome of a few of this season’s games. Moral victories can get a little stale, but for this team this season, that’s not the case. Not yet. *sound of optimism motor engaging*
Josh: You know that motor is always at least on idle on my end. Each team had one goal scorer, both of San Jose’s were on set pieces, but there was a lot of good ball movement in the open field. During the first half, when the Quakes got the ball, Nashville set right up in their zone grid on defense, and that was hard for SJ to navigate. But more importantly, when the Blue and Black fell back on defense, your favorite Nathan showed why he is essential to the back line, along with Thompson, Marie, and Beason.
Matt: Yes. Let’s not diminish the set pieces. While Ebobisse has been on fire lately, strong set pieces are something the team has needed to have in place for when the scoring fountain is running dry. If you can avoid defensive collapse, have a reasonable chance of scoring on free kicks and corners, and maintain offensive firepower, you’ve got a team that will bring the fight regardless of the opponent. Before the Houston game, as a fan it felt like the team had to pick one and struggle to get a second.
Josh: I think that imbalance is why the Earthquakes sit where they are in the standings, and if it isn’t resolved, will likely not make it into the upper tier by October. And I think that’s why the fans are wondering - how long do we have to wait, and who needs to make the big move? Well, someone did! Just a couple hours after the game, rumors made it to the press, and then on Monday the Quakes confirmed that Matias Almeyda will no longer serve as Head Coach.
Matt: The long, slow motion car crash finally came to a resolution. It was even a little Shakespearean in the sense that anyone who was paying attention could see multiple missed opportunities along the way, even if they were essentially the same opportunity missed over and over that allowed a bad situation to get worse and worse.
Josh: There was a lot of talk about this change happening before the season started, but when it didn’t, I think a lot of us said - okay, one more time, let’s finish this contract strong. And so far, not so much. It’s easy to point the finger at the Head Coach because they’re the most visible, and in theory, what happens on the field is the illustration of their efforts. Historically, Almeyda took teams that needed to recover and made them champions. And his time as a player is known for being a leader in the midfield. But neither of those things played out on the one-of-a-kind PayPal Park pitch.
Matt: So many ways to look at this. The classic take: when coaches have amazing players, they’re geniuses. When they don’t they’re failures (see: Phil Jackson, Chicago Bulls). Almeyda could have misunderstood what it takes to be successful in MLS – he wouldn’t have been the first one (*cough cough, Higuain*). There’s also the “lost the clubhouse” perspective, which isn’t my favorite, at least philosophically, but sometimes it’s true (see: Bobby Valentine, Red Sox). Probably the least likely statement to incite controversy would be that teams figured out how to beat Almeyda’s defensive tactics, but he didn’t adjust from there to move forward.
Josh: Although I don’t understand the business of sports, I know there’s a lot more to it. During the off season, Coach Almeyda talked about how if the team management doesn’t want to recruit and afford top tier players, there isn’t much he can do. I thought the additions of players we’ve been talking about so far this season - Nathan, Ebobisse, Gregus, Montiero, Calvo - were big strides in the direction he was asking for, but seven games in, they don’t feel like they’re playing as a unit, with a system.
Matt: You’re right about recent signings, but apart from Nathan, they were all signed post-Fioranelli (some with clever moves that didn’t break the bank), which to me says they weren’t primarily Almeyda’s “guys” in the mode of Chofis, Rios, Vega, etc. I think we could all agree which players signed before Leitch took over have made a successful transition, but we have to give him at least equal credit for 4 of the 5 you mentioned. Don’t get me wrong, I like Almeyda, and he seems to be a good guy at his core, but a new defensive scheme under Covelo is overdue. And legend Wondo will be there on the sideline, too!
Josh: As we’ve talked about outside of this medium, and I’ve alluded to in previous write-ups - I’m hoping the new, albeit temporary, coaching squad also takes a hard look at the field, who is where, who is wearing the Captain armband, and makes changes. And from what I know about teamwork, I’d say other than injury, etc., can the fans expect the same Starting XI for like 4 weeks? I think that would be valuable in getting the team to find their roles, or finally get out of a role, and know where they can help each other succeed.
Matt: I think we will, accounting for Chofis and Kikanovic’s returns. Sometimes a team responds powerfully to fresh leadership. After Brad Freidel left Foxborough, the Revs responded powerfully to Mike Lapper and soon racked up win after win after win and forced their way into the playoffs. It could be something as simple as Covelo walking up to players and saying “tell me what you are seeing and what you think you need to be successful,” and going from there. Trust goes a long way.
Josh: Well we know one thing, San Jose fans will be watching closely to see what happens in the upper-tier matches coming up. Maybe the cries for change in ownership will get louder. But hopefully, and most importantly, we’ll have more fun watching the Earthquakes play. #VamosSJ !!!!
on Twitter: @QuakesCoasts