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The Quakes - Halfway There, Living On a Prayer

Updated: Feb 12, 2023

Josh: Wow! Only three games this month, due to international play, and with so much news, we probably need to just focus on the two road games. What’s your elevator statement for where the Quakes are, now approaching the real halfway mark?

Matt: We’re starting to see Calvelo’s strategy and philosophy take root, and they’re shifting from a (lovable but) winless team to one able to draw and occasionally win. An important question remains - in addition to changes in approach, will we see significant changes in personnel this season?

Josh: Nice, and maybe. The expectation is that Chofis leaves after June 30, potentially introducing Calvelo’s first recruit (for a DP spot!) and an opportunity to lock in his lineup, which has started to become more consistent. First, a moment to celebrate - six San Jose Earthquakes were training or competing with their National teams during this break. Your favorite “Kraken” Cowell and Nico Tsakiris tearing up the pitch with the U-20 USMNT, Monteiro and Bouda playing in the African Cup of Nations, Marcos López and Calvo playing in World Cup Qualifiers - including Calvo and Costa Rica earning a bid to WC’22!

Matt: All good stuff. Like so many things, you don’t get better at soccer if you don’t play against competition that is better than you are.

Josh: And play alongside great players. Now back to the Bay, let’s catch our readers up on what we saw on and off the pitch, starting with the Blue & Black’s first game at the beautiful GEODIS Park in Nashville. Why don’t you take a go at it?

Matt: My pleasure! No Calvo (WCQ), defensively crucial Judson not ready to start, Marcinkowski with the armband. Also important: no Zimmerman for Nashville (WCQ). Nashville had the edge in the first 15 minutes, but WHAT AN AMAZING PLAY by Paul Marie in the 10’: Marcinkowksi was left all alone once again, but he forced Hakaanson to his right and Marie came behind JT and slid to block what should have been an easy shot. 16 minutes later Marie blocked a great Nashville centering pass that had been destined for the net.

Nashville fans were furious about a goal called offside in the 28’, but it was the correct call. (Nashville’s yellow smoke machines had to be reloaded amongst sadness.) The second half started with strong Nashville attempts and good SJ counterattack, but stayed scoreless, visibly frustrating a Nashville team that hadn’t solved the Quakes. Calvelo subbed in Benji and Judson, then Salinas, but Quakes remained unable to score. Same for Nashville, due in large part to the disciplined Quakes defense on display. (Even the Nashville commentators pointed it out.) Final score: 0-0. The time off and new strategy may have started a personality overhaul for the team. If you ask me, Paul Marie was the MOTM. Without him, Nashville could have won 3-0 or 4-0.

Josh: Based on your recap, and the video on SJEarthquakes - I agree! Captain JT did great, and Marie clearly stepped up above & beyond the rest of the defenders. Let’s let Number 3 have this one.

Matt: I think the Quakes are getting back to basics and focusing on teamwork to ultimately develop more synergy and a more dynamic team effort. Sorry you couldn’t watch it…but from what I hear that might not be a problem next season.

Josh: Right?! I think this is where we say, “was someone reading our work?”, because NO REGIONAL BLACKOUTS is all I can see in those press releases. I will excitedly be clicking that button to subscribe to the MLS service hosted by Apple TV app. It’s also validating for Major League Soccer to now have a service like the other major US sports, and in a different way with a big company invested in its success.

Matt: I’m not getting paid to say this, but Apple is pretty good at adding “one more thing…” I suspect it will be unlike any other service, and in a good way. I’m in.

Josh: Reviews of Friday Night Baseball suggest you’re right. A couple quick, but I think important “business news” items - the Quakes signed a local super-talented Homegrown from the Academy - 15-year-old Cruz Medina. I imagine, like Emi Ochoa, we’ll see him develop in Quakes II and always be ready, but probably a couple years before he has any serious playing time. For the new C-level promotions, loud opinions on social are hoping these new executives will pressure the owners in the right way to build the team on and off the field. Any thoughts?

Matt: I hope the new faces in key places will keep the long-term picture in mind in their moves this season. That doesn’t help the impatient fan, but with increasing transfer fees and movement across the pond (see: NE Revolution: Turner, Buchanan, Buksa), a couple of thoughtful moves could suddenly put the Quakes in a very good position. Speaking of long term, I think a World Cup semifinal is in my future. How about yours?

Josh: I’m thinking about it! Levi’s Stadium also got the nod as “Bay Area” was one of the 11 US “cities” chosen by FIFA for the 2026 World Cup. Shoutout to Brandi Chastain for leading the Bay Area 2026 efforts (and her efforts on #NWSLtotheBay)! Levi’s is home to the 49ers, but the Quakes are glad to be hosts. And yes, the Revs home football stadium will also be hosting games. If 1994 was any indication, this will be huge for American soccer, the MLS, and I think for San Jose!

Matt: Hey hey, don’t be hating on Gillette just because the Patriots play on the Revolution’s home field! Anyway, there’s still no sign of the metric system, but the growth of soccer is undeniable. Even in the mountains by the Great Salt Lake.

Josh: Oh man, out come the metric system advocates… and yes, thanks for the segue. A frustrating match for the Quakes against Real Salt Lake. San Jose had Benji and Judson starting, and for the first half we saw a composed team in the silver & black with crisp passing and some great through balls. Ebobisse sent more shots into the balcony than challenged the RSL keeper. I’m not sure if Nathan was outmatched, still not at full strength, or maybe playing too far forward, but he’s on the wrong end of many RSL moments. However, he was on the right end of a header that was 3-inches off of getting momentum turned. JT looked good, including a really nice hustle on a back-to-back save without getting up off the turf!

RSL’s first goal was a good corner that no one really can take blame for. Glad the refs called back the off-sides goal - two in two games is a sign that the SJ back line is playing smarter and keeping the opponents upfield. The second goal was certainly helped by an errant header by the Captain armband - not sure what the thought process was there. But when the Quakes have only one shot on goal and seven total, there’s no chance against a top tier Western team. RSL’s game plan was to shut down Monteiro and play off sides, and it seemed to work.

Matt: An unavailable Calvo also hurt the Quakes. I always appreciate your optimism, but to keep it simple, success for the Quakes will wait until they solve their own offensive problems, not just those of their opponent.

Josh: Time for some Kit Talk? What do the experts think of the Unity warm ups that I think are displaying the flowers from the 2022 ball. Also, the Freedom to Be Numbers: so good to see MLS continuing visible action for Juneteenth, led by Black Players for Change, including co-founder & VP Jeremy Ebobisse. You went to a game on Juneteenth to see your Revs beat MNUFC, right? How did they look in person?

Matt: I thought the kits looked great, but for a reason I can’t quite verbalize, I thought they looked best as zip-up tracksuit tops. Especially as the departing Matt Turner walked around the stadium after the game, applauding the fans and signing autographs.

Josh: Glad you were there to celebrate MT - a great part of the recent Revs. The plan for the Team from 408 will look sharp and confident as they welcome the Team from Carson to Stanford Stadium next weekend, and the Chicago Fire to PayPal Park on fireworks weekend. Any predictions?

Matt: Four points is definitely possible. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, more momentum into and through the final third is desperately needed. Hopefully the team can build on their progress from the last two weeks and bring home four. Against rivals, anything is possible. (Cue hype music!)

Josh: I’d love to see some great Goonies action out there, and I feel like 4 points is possible, if not realistic. The Clasíco is a great environment and Stanford has such history for US Soccer and this team. San Jose should show Chicago how hard the Western Conference plays. Vamos SJ!

Rating on the Quake-o-meter Scale for Games 15, 16 (Richter goes to 9, OURS goes to 10)

Final Score on the Quake-o-meter Richter Scale: 5.96/10

Current % chance of a San Jose/New England MLS Cup Final: 35% - The Revs cracked the Playoff Bubble for now, so the percentage is mostly thanks to them…

Twitter: @QuakesCoasts

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