Let’s Talk Preseason

February 21, 2017

Last preseason, we didn’t put much stock in the fact the Quakes first-team couldn’t score against MLS opponents. We deluded ourselves; it’s just preseason. Reality set in at the season’s end; the team set a club record for the lowest goals per game average in club history (0.94).

Now it’s 2017, and history is repeating itself. The Quakes haven’t scored more than one goal in a game all preseason, including against NASL’s San Francisco Deltas and twice against the USL’s we-just-formed-our-team-this-year Reno 1868 FC. It may be preseason, but preseason games are still games where we should expect starting XI players to generate offense.

This lack of offense is nothing new. Ever since the Goonie season, the Quakes have consistently scored fewer goals than the rest of the league:

  • 2013: 1.02 goals per game (35 goals on the season). Rest of league average: 1.32. Difference: -0.30
  • 2014: 1.02 goals per game (35 goals on the season). Rest of League average: 1.45. Difference: -0.43
  • 2015: 1.21 goals per game (41 goals on the season). Rest of League average: 1.39. Difference: -0.18
  • 2016: 0.94 goals per game (32 goals on the season). Rest of League average: 1.43. Difference: -0.49

Yes, in each of the last four seasons, the Quakes have not reached the league’s collective goals per game average. Bluntly, for the past four seasons, the Quakes have had a below-average offense. And if this preseason is any indication as it was in 2016 (which was WAY below average), we could struggle again in 2017.

Fans should be concerned. Wondo, the team’s only consistent goal scorer, ain’t getting any younger. To complicate matters, as of today, the team only has three active primary forwards: Marco Urena, Danny Hoesen, and Wondo (Quincy is injured). Preseason games in which we can’t score multiple goals and an active roster with just three forwards–two of whom are untested in MLS–should be raising flags.

The Quakes also have a history of poor luck (or poor coaching?) with forwards that are inconsistent goal scorers. Quincy, Barrett, Sherrod, Innocent, Jahn, and Goitom combined for six Quake goals in 2016. Will Marco Urena or Danny Hoesen be any different in Dom’s system, or will we see the same pattern: forwards coming in and being wholly ineffective. Without seeing Hoesen or Urena get quality preseason minutes due to visa issues, it’s impossible to know until the season starts. Until then, experience has caused me to be skeptical that 2017 will be different.

Do I think we’ll have a repeat of last season? No. I have faith that GM Jesse Fioranelli has made good choices to help relieve Wondo of the scoring load, similar to Alan Gordon and Steven Lenhart in 2012 with Hoesen and Urena. I’m also hopeful that Jahmir Hyka can be a scoring threat similar to what Dawkins should have been last season. But I would be lying if I said that the lack of scoring hasn’t been a cause for concern, as I think it should be for most Quakes fans.

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