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San Jose Quakes Run Hot, Then Cold. What Are They Getting Just Right?

QOBC Vol. 3 No. 10 - June 27, 2023


Josh: The weather’s warming up. The Quakes had one game where field temps were over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. And the team is hot & cold right when we’re knocking on the top of the standings.

Matt: One of the challenges of MLS is the climate variability…some other leagues don’t have to deal with the extremes of traveling from the northern US or Canada to Texas and Florida, which can be brutal. The current heat dome over the southern US has proved deadly, and I give all the props to those playing outside in it. San Jose definitely melted, as did the Revs when they were in Miami last month…we’re not used to it in these New England states.

Josh: For sure - we’re also definitely spoiled out here in The Bay. Match weeks summary - international rotation pauses, Cade Cowell & the rest return to San Jose, Earthquakes look amazing and top Philly 2-1. Head to Portland where the crossbar denies SJ multiple attempts, 0-0 draw. International rotation again, off to sweltering Houston, get barbecued by the Dynamo. Last, but not least, invite the newest team to PayPal Park - and lose the unbeaten-at-home streak. What’s the through-line here, Matt?

Matt: Overall, this is just as an entertaining team to watch as it has been the last few seasons, but this 2023 group can get it done on any given night. Flashback to when I said Philly would be a test, and I stand by it - San Jose passed the test. With Espinoza selected to the MLS All-Star Game, The Quakes sitting 5th in in the standings (only 5 points from the top of the Western Conference), the 3 CB approach working so far, and San Jose picking off teams like LAFC, Seattle, and Philly, the Quakes should be shedding its reputation as the team that will beat itself in the final minutes and one where your “B Team” will get the job done.

Josh: I love that positivity. Because things are going well, it can feel frustrating to be a fan of the 2023 Earthquakes, especially after having had such down seasons recently. Had Ebobisse’s or Thompson’s attempts been 2 inches the right direction, the Quakes would’ve been tied for first in the West by points. This year, it feels like San Jose’s depth is stronger than ever, but there is some off-pitch stuff affecting the team, beyond losing Nathan. Why wasn’t Mensah in the starting lineup, or subbed in, against Houston? With Gruezo and Trauco on international duty, it seems like a no-brainer to put him and Rodrigues in the center. But he’s been sitting off and on for “team violations” - I guess I wish I knew more about what was happening there.

Matt: While I consider myself a patient fan – these are humans, after all, playing a game – I do get frustrated with “team violations” because those are often avoidable and the result of situations and judgment. I hope we won’t see any more of that.

Josh: Celebrated Coach for your Revolution, Bruce Arenas, says that MLS should pause play during the International rotation - what do you think? I believe that’s what Premier League et al. do, so maybe there’s some merit there. I saw the LA Times piece(1) which highlights how many tournaments US soccer teams and players play in, and it does seem excessive. Concacaf Champions League, Concacaf Nations League and other regional Nations Leagues, Gold Cup, Leagues Cup, US Open, Campeones Cup, Team World Cup, MLS All Star Game, oh right, and playing for their MLS team for their job. And I’m just highlighting the play of the men’s teams, but a similar strain is put on the women’s leagues as well.

Matt: SO MANY TOURNAMENTS. I am totally open to pausing when it is related to qualifying for the World Cup, which would include the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Other than that it looks like a long and winding road to me. MLS is directly involved in the CCL, the Campeones Cup, and the brand-new-haven’t-played-it-yet-Leagues-Cup, so if there’s injury, some of it is self-inflicted. The way teams treat the US Open Cup, I guess you can be happy that your starters are getting some rest. Looking into my non-existent crystal ball, maybe in 20 years there is so much more soccer infrastructure and players system that it won’t be a problem to field teams for this endless parade of tournaments. While Revs fans are crying foul about Carles Gil not being selected for the All-Star Game, the replies came quickly that it’s better for the Revs on the whole that Carles doesn’t have to travel mid-week and play an extra game.

Josh: His highlights from the skills competition will be missed! It will be interesting to see how soon 30 MLS teams, and maybe the evolution of NextPRO, etc,, supports the volume as well.

Matt: The more I think about it, your comparison with the Premier League pausing for International Play but playing a ton of additional games for various tournaments gets more and more interesting. There are eight leagues in the top levels of England footy that are all actively interconnected, plus all of the feeder leagues below. There’s never a lack of players in the UK.

Josh: And that’s in a land area the size of New York state. Back to our season, the next episode of the Clasico at historic Stanford Stadium is on its way, July 1st, followed once again by an LAFC matchup back down in BMO stadium. The Galaxy have had a hard season even before losing Chicharito for his ACL, so the Cali Clasico is a little less exciting this year. ​LAFC has been exhausted, for the reasons we described above, but with an away game, I’m still thinking our Quakes bring home 4 points over the two weekends.

Matt: Apparently I’m going to be the optimist this time around. I think we’re looking at 6 points. I agree about Galaxy, but with LAFC playing the weekend before in the Texas heat, followed by a mid-week game (against Carson, nonetheless), San Jose will be positioned to have picked up 6 from its California colleagues when the grass clippings have settled on July 8th.

Josh: Hydrate, readers, and the Blue & Black. It’s gonna be a long Summer and we need to stay safe and healthy. Vamos SJ!

1: Kevin Baxter, “Commentary: ‘Enough is enough.’ Too much soccer aggravating MLS players and coaches”, LA Times, 20 June, 2023

Quake-o-meter for Games 17, 18, 19, 20 (Richter goes to 9, OURS goes to 10)

Final Score on the Quake-o-meter Richter Scale: 7.1 /10 -

Current % chance of a San Jose/New England MLS Cup Final: 64% - Both teams at the top of their respective tables means it’s worth pricing the airfare.

Twitter and Instagram: @QuakesCoasts

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