Two straight home wins had Quakes fans hoping the team was for real. Two straight decisive road losses have fans wondering if the team will miss the playoffs for the fifth straight season. It’s time for changes.
Problem: Simon Dawkins. In four games, Dawkins averages zero goals, zero assists, 1.3 key passes, zero crosses, 2.3 dispossessions, and 1.8 unsuccessful first touches. These numbers are nearly identical to his 2016 numbers, which saw a franchise-record WORST goals-per-game average. The dude doesn’t play defense, and can’t produce offense. Dawkins either has to be a bench player, or be moved to a forward where instead of producing the attack, he’s finishing it. It’s difficult to watch a guy who is supposed to be a midfielder be so lackadaisical on defense while producing nothing on offense.
Problem: Shaun Francis. Is this a Jamaican thing? Aside from Dawkins, Francis may be the second-most difficult player to watch as a Quakes fan. “Shrosses” aside (Francis’s characteristic shot/cross; was it a cross or a shot??), his failure to mark up on the counter-attack, awful ball control, and lack of speed to make the deep runs are liabilities for any fullback. I’d love to see Flo Jungwirth take his spot at left-back. Which brings me to my next point . . .
Problem: Center-backs. This isn’t a coaching or personnel problem, but bad luck. Both Cummings and Wynne are out for the foreseeable future. Bernardez is getting older (and ineligible to play on Saturday versus the Seattle Sounders). Flo Jungwirth has stepped in, but he isn’t a natural center-back. I’m all in favor of experimenting with Fatai Alashe moved to center-back with Muma, and having Flo moved to left-back. Fatai loves to mix it up on corners, is feisty, and could blossom in a mostly-defensive role.
Problem: Predictability. Ever since the Quakes adopted the double-pivot 4-4-2, and had a decisive 5-0 win against Sporting KC in 2015, Head Coach Dom Kinnear has adopted it as his default formation. SKC wasn’t expecting it, which is why it was so effective. Fast-forward a season, and the 4-4-2 is the most predictable lineup for any opposing coaching staff. With the players the Quakes have, why not run Godoy as the lone defensive mid, run speedy midfielders like Hyka, Cato, Thompson, or Salinas in a diamond with Godoy, and move Dawkins to the top with Wondo?
Until things start changing from 2016, which includes removing the ineffective players and changing the ineffective formations, don’t expect major changes in the 2017 standings.