QOBC Vol. 2 No. 8 May 10, 2022
photo sources: sjearthquakes.com
Matt: From a numerical standpoint, the Quakes just got 6 out of a possible 9 points in the last three games. From a tactical standpoint, while I wasn’t there in training in the 408, it looks like the team is reconfiguring to take advantage of their existing strengths.
Josh: Previous Coach Almeyda seemed to insist that practices were open, but I haven’t made it over there yet. I agree - there were definitely some moves made, and maybe permissions granted, to play differently with interim-Coach Covelo.
Matt: First up, San Jose hosted a tired Seattle team that was on the way to being the first MLS CCL Championship team. Nathan made a dangerous play cleats-up against Ruidiaz in the 14’. He was lucky to not get sent off, but a few days later was suspended by the MLS Disciplinary Committee one game (same as a red card).
Josh: Kudos to Seattle repping the MLS is important; box checked. I think a lot of people have feelings about making calls after games, or even after review, but what happened, happened: Nathan, again, let his cleats go first and up in the air on what would’ve been an otherwise awesome tackle. I hope Assistant Coach Wondo chatted with him about it.
Matt: While I wanted to see it as just hard tackle, it was pretty bad on the replay. If I had been on the receiving end of that, I would have no longer had a right knee to speak of. Leidero buried the PK and 6 short minutes later sent a perfect free kick that an unobstructed Christian Roldan headed in. At that point I was ready to settle down for a slow final 45 leading to a loss, but the second half started with a Seattle collapse on the right side. Espinoza buried the ball on a comebacker (my in-house expert informs me this kick is called a half volley) in the 57’, but was followed by another (SJ complete defensive failure and) beautiful Seattle cross and tap in.
Josh: It’s hard to argue with well-played soccer. I think we just like it better when it’s the Earthquakes working the field and the other team’s 18 yards.
Matt: Like when seven minutes later, Espinoza brought it up the right side again, didn’t see a great option for crossing it, and sent it home from outside the box? THEN ONE MINUTE LATER San Jose pressed the ball up and Seattle collapsed. San Jose passed it around for a moment and Yueill tapped it in. 3-3. At this point, PayPal Park was cheering and screaming so loudly I could almost hear them from my house.
Josh: Great to hear it get loud at the stadium - do you think they warn the inbound planes? And so nice to see Espinoza out there taking shots. It definitely felt like in the previous coaching style, roles were pretty strict - strikers shoot, wingers cross, midfielders pass back to the defenders. Maybe that’s why Cowell seemed so resistant to shoot early in the season?
Matt: Possibly. In the final minutes against the Sounders, the Goonies were all pressure, and a Sounders penalty was called after VAR in the 94’. Future Player of the Week Espinoza completely fooled the keeper on the PK, and the Quakes won 4-3. WHAT. A. MATCH.
Josh: Espinoza was hot and Coach Covelo let him take the PK and close out the hat trick in Goonies fashion! I like that style - trust. the. players.
Matt: Seven days later, San Jose traveled to a baseball stadium to face NYCFC and played them HARD. Despite the final score, JT had a great game. And let’s give it up for Remedi, who almost sneaked one in right below the crossbar in the 61’! Unfortunately, after San Jose subbed off Ebobisse and Monteiro for Cowell and Benji in the 71', the goals started coming for NYCFC against a melting SJ D.
Josh: Perhaps they should’ve subbed off Marie & Beason off instead, because after Montiero left the field, the blue & orange team found their way through the Quakes back line. But if you watch the MLS, and therefore Quakes, Recap video, you’d have to notice the game clock to realize that there was 73 minutes of invisible battle before NYCFC (so many letters, and the dreaded FC) before the scoreboard got any attention. But let’s focus on happier things: what about the second three points of the week?
Matt: The Boys in Blue beat a barely organized Colorado 1-0 on a 64’ Nathan tapper from an Espinoza centering pass. Ebobisse had a near miss at the 58’ that looked easier than it was - when you watch the replay you can see Ebobisse was trying to thread the needle to get that shot on target and just couldn’t. For the Rapids offense, most of their shots were right to JT, which seemed to be the result of consistent D and good GK positioning by Mr. Marcinkowski. He got lucky in the 67’ and 68’ when Colorado missed major chances to equalize due to gaping defensive holes, and had a HUGE save in the 70' to keep the momentum going. I was disappointed that Calvo gave the Rapids a freebie kick in the 73’ - while I thought it was a Rapids dive, my in-house soccer expert called it a clear trip upon watching the VAR. Nathan spent the rest of the match desperately trying for a brace, but it was not to be. In the waning moments, the Rapids tried to sneak one in the edge of the goal in the 94’, but JT was all over it.
Josh: The Colorado Keeper definitely deserves credit for keeping the on-fire Earthquakes to only one in the net. On our side, it’s good to see JT be able to get breaks and earn a shutout with a reasonable amount of shots. That combined with Nathan’s triumphant return earns them both MLS Team of the Week honors! And this caps off 4 straight weeks with San Jose players earning that honor. Seems like a good trend at the right time of the season.
Matt: When JT brings donuts after a clean sheet, where does he buy them? Sorry, I digress. Now for the big closer question: What do you think the Quakes need to keep doing and keep tweaking to keep this going?
Josh: The answer is probably Psycho Donuts - look ‘em up. For the future, SJ74 needs to keep hydrating and hustling… and keeping their cleats on the ground. But seriously, why mess with what is absolutely working? After all, there are an important and busy 17 days ahead - starting in US Open competition, then back to the MLS season on the road in Canada, two back at home, and then on the road south against an LAFC team with the most goals in the MLS. Finishing May with nine or ten more points is not out of the question. And what an exciting possibility to hit the midpoint of the season!
Matt: There’s definitely potential. Seattle has been resting players after the CCL Championship game and will still probably prioritize getting everyone back to full strength. Vancouver and SKC have had a hard start to the season, and I think SJ could steal at least a point at home against Portland. For the truly optimistic Quakes fan, LAFC will have just had road games against Austin and Columbus, so they won’t be as rested. Right now the biggest Quakes needed adjustments continue to be defense and maybe injury recovery...so that’s something they have in common with the Revs right now. US Open Cup tickets are usually a bargain…do you know where you’ll be on Wednesday night?
Josh: You know I’m that type of fan!! Sadly, I won’t be out at PayPal Park on the school night, but you’ll know where to find me - proudly raising my scarf high from the couch - Vamos SJ!
Rating on the Quake-o-meter Scale for Games 8, 9 & 10 (Richter goes to 9, OURS goes to 10)
Final Score on the Quake-o-meter Richter Scale: 7.7/10
Current % chance of a San Jose/New England MLS Cup Final: 15% – with both teams up to 11th Place, there’s more than a shadow’s chance!