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Quakes Try to Shake the Start, but Can’t Finish

Updated: Apr 11




Are they celebrating? Commiserating? You be the judge. Pic: sjearthquakes.com


Josh: As the Bay Area starts to emerge from the rainy season, aka Winter, the warm weather springs hope eternal for San Jose Earthquakes fans… or does it.


Matt: I think it’s fair to say that hope has to spring eternal in a Quakes fan, or at least the joy of watching the club run the pitch every Saturday. Spring can be unpredictable - I spent Saturday evening in 39 degree rain watching my local club, so I hope it’s getting warmer there than it is here.


Josh: I appreciate your dedication - impressive! Starting with the TL;DR for any scanning readers: after Match Day 8? 


Matt: Match Day 7.


Josh: I’m losing track of how they count… After seven games, your San Jose Earthquakes are at the bottom of the Western Conference, 1-6-0 with 3 points on the season; negative 7 Goal Differential, with the only hopeful statistic of 10 goals scored on the season - also the only one off the bottom of the League.


Matt: Not at the bottom of the list for goals scored, but yes for goal differential. Sounds like the Quakes as of recent.


Josh: When we last left our struggling heroes, the Quakes were headed to Kansas City, back home to Seattle, then a couple road weekends in Texas. None of these matches were going to be easy, but there was reason for hope of something against SKC. And in the 11th minute, New-for-2024 Costa punches his 2024 Goal card, getting fans excited. Did he read this column and see what Matt was saying about Right Back? Sadly, by the 29th minute, hopes were dashed, as Sporting carved the defense with some really good play, and the good guys were down 2-1. And with a handball calling back Rodriguez’s far post tap-in, San Jose heads back to the Bay with their second 0-4 start in 50 years of club history.


Matt: I have nothing to add. Just my salty tears. SKC is a beatable team, and it just didn’t happen.


Josh: But it’s gotta go better at home, right? It’s Seattle, another 50-year team trying to navigate the 2024 campaign. And it does, but it wasn’t easy. We start what appears to be the year of Yarborough, with Daniel’s hamstring injury putting him on the DL. Costa starts the Quakes off again with a gritty diving goal that shows the hustle the Blue & Black will need to recover this season. And thankfully, after a video review, the Quakes score a second goal for the first time this season, thanks to a rebound and a barely-onside effort, finished by Espinoza. A questionable call gives the Sounders a PK, so Ruidiaz puts away another Penenka on the season and gets Seattle one back. Just a few minutes later, the sub from Seattle heads in a goal over the back of Paul Marie to tie it up. You can see San Jose “fans” heading out to beat traffic, but then one minute later, playing as a Super Sub, King Jebo grabs a fantastic cross from Skahan to grab the win!


Matt: Yarborough looks like an example of the Quakes guessing correctly when they were putting together the 2024 edition of the Quakes. He’s been very solid between the goalposts - low drama, so far not writing checks his body can’t cash, and communicating very assertively with the defense. Combine that with the ability to make impressive spot and point-blank saves, and you’re going to end up with a defensive line that defers to and puts it all on the line for Yarbrough. Add that to the fact that Quakes have been serving as the perfect trap game opponents for the Sounders in recent years, and this worked out for the Boys in Blue.


Josh: We are fired up! Let’s go to Houston and get vengeance on the city that took our Quakes! Bruno Wilson, barely a minute into play, heads an Espinoza corner into the back corner. Some great saves by Yarborough earned him a Team of the Week nomination. But then Preston Judd becomes an April Fool by throwing an elbow while play was stopped, and 30 minutes in, the Quakes are playing with ten men.


Matt: This really bothered me. To lose composure so early in the match is completely unacceptable. At best Judd fell into a Dynamo mental trap, at worst this is something we’re going to have to worry about as the season progresses.


Josh: Your Saturday’s Heroes impressively hold on until the 80th minute! A totally appropriate defensive deflection bounces the ball into the bottom corner and it’s even. Yarborough seems to athletically save the game winner, but the rebound smokes over his head and 84 minutes in, SJ starts to hang its head. And then just for fun, Jackson Yeuill displays some non-Captain conduct in the 94th minute, earning a second yellow and the Quakes finish the match with 9 players.


Matt: The stats are pretty shocking - Houston led possession 82% to 18%, and had 15 shots to San Jose’s 2. These are the kind of stats that make you wonder who didn’t show up to play. I don’t fault the dedication of the team as a whole, but holy cow, San Jose’s gotta do better than that. This is also the game that makes me wonder if this season will be the crucible that finally pushes the team past the point of signing or re-signing players who aren’t going to be part of the solution. Time will tell.


Josh: Quakes v. Verde opens for 2024 at O2 Stadium with a strong showing by your San Jose Earthquakes. Maybe Gruezo playing solo center mid and Backpass Yeuill on the bench is what they needed to score three goals in a match! But alas, in the 101st minute, Austin drives home goal number 4, and the 408 fly home with 0 points again. It was 2-0 in the 58th minute, but by minute 67, they were down 2-3. Pellegrino tried to salvage a point by joining the 2024 Goal Scorers Club, but the defense could not hold back the Austin drive in stoppage.


Matt: It was good to see Gruezo show some ability to find his stride, I’ll take more please and thank you. And Pellegrino scoring #yesthankyouandgoodnight. The more this team looks like a group of players can finish at the net, like Espinoza, Ebobisse, Kikanovic, Pellegrino, Marie, Rodrigues, Gruezo, Costa, Wilson….opponents will have to pay attention. That being said, the Quakes also have to not beat themselves, or it won’t matter how many they score.


Josh: Too many defensive headers up in the air in our own 18-yard box for my liking. On social, San Jose fans have been saying for years “Sell the Team” and as we watch our team at the bottom of almost every statistic, with a Designated Player spot sitting unused, I can see why those voices have been getting louder. Lately, this has been joined by calls for wasting a spot on Judd, bench Yeuill, trade Ebobisse, and to channel my Ted Lasso - Sack the Gaffer. There are a lot of holes in the strategy, in the lineup, and Quakes fans have to wonder what needs to change.


Matt: I have a few thoughts. 1: I’m not a huge fan of “cleaning house” - a lot of good can go out with the bad – but there’s definitely something to be said for being a team that doesn’t put up with attitude problems or settle for keeping players who simply haven’t been progressing. 2: Steady attention to the development of young players is crucial, and I believe a team like that will find success faster than one that is plugging holes right and left as best they can. 3: I am sure there are a lot of quality people in the Quakes organization to be sure, but there seem to be morale problems that need to be addressed. Attention to items 1 and 2 will help with #3.


Josh: Costa and Ebobisse are top of the team with two goals each, so it seems like we should give Jebo a chance to have another 10+ goal season. To use some Matt stats, it does seem like we should be resting the 50th Kit, because that did not bring us success, as good as it looks out there and on the fans. My take - I’m going to stick with my previous statements on there not being a playmaker, a true “Number 9” who keeps a head up, can control the pace and the play, and will also lead the midfield coverage, where the ball just seems to repeatedly slip right down through the center circle against our Quakes.


Matt: I would agree. I’m not sure the Quakes have their guy who has a nose for being in front of the net at just the right time and place, but it could be something that develops this season. I remain optimistic.


Josh: The rest of the month is Colorado, Nashville, and Episode 2 of the Clasíco against a burning bright Carson team. I’ll be as optimistic as I can and say there’s going to be 5 more points as we head to Levi’s against LAFC for Cinco de Mayo. But I do feel it’s a stretch that is going to take some hard work and some hard review by Coach and the players.


Matt: I’ll be the cynic here - I say 3, maybe 4 at the most. But I would love to see this team string together some progress, even if it's a few draws at first, then peppered with wins. Make it so.


Josh: The Quakes Faithful will always be here to cheer on the team, even when a lot of locals are wondering “Why bother?” Because they’re the San Jose team, they’re the Goonies, and this is what it means to be a fan. Vamos SJ!



Quake-o-meter for Matches 4-7 (Richter goes to 9, OURS goes to 10)






Category

Matt

Josh

Average

Offense

6

7

6.5

Midfield

5

4

4.5

Defense

5

5

5

GK

5

6

5.5

Strategy/Coaching

5

5

5

Team Composure

5

3

4


Final Score on the Quake-o-meter Richter Scale: 5.25 /10 - Not every grade of an F leads to a full semester of failure!


Current % chance of a San Jose/New England MLS Cup Final: 5% - Neither side is helping their case in 2024.


Twitter/X and Instagram: @QuakesCoasts


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