A few weeks ago, I posted an article on the anatomy of a Quakes loss, which features the Quakes’ over-reliance on play from the wings. Against FC Dallas, I highlighted the Quakes’ impotent use of crosses (27) which resulted in few chances created, while showing how the only Quakes goal came from a central build up. Guess what’s changed?
In their latest game, the Quakes went away from a wing build up and focused solely on playing the ball centrally. According to 11tegen11 (special thanks to Lucas Mirani for drawing attention to this), and something I highlighted mid-match, the Quakes more-or-less completely abandoned trying to generate offense from the wings. Only Kofi Sarkodie and Cordell Cato (the two wing fullbacks) were the players playing in a wide position. Most other Quakes were playing centrally, which generated 17 shots, eight of which were on target, and 14 quality scoring chances.
Chris Wondolowski found his way back onto the score sheet, netting two goals and an assist for deserved Man-of-the-Match honors. However, the entire starting XI deserves some recognition. David Bingham notched his second shutout in two games. Cordell Cato and Kofi Sarkodie both saw their second starts at fullback and helped ensure the shutout. Victor Bernardez led the team with 10 clearances. Flo Jungwirth held himself defensively versus Fanendo Adi, and also contributed three key passes to go along with his two assists. Both Jahmir Hyka and Danny Hoesen had four shots, two on target, and a key pass; Hyka also netted the game’s first goal. The duo of Darwin Ceren and Anibal Godoy combined for over 150 touches, which helped generate the attack through the middle.
Portland was missing two key pieces in Diego Valeri and Darlington Nagbe, so excuses abound. The simple truth is that Portland was completely unprepared for San Jose’s central buildup, and resorted to wide play. Portland generated 20 crosses, but only four shots on target; numbers similar to many Quakes fans.
Perhaps the only casualty of this new form is rookie fullback Nick Lima. Both Cordell Cato and Kofi Sarkodie have helped keep a 120 scoreless minutes streak in tact, a change that any coach would be crazy to abandon. Until the defense shows signs of weakness, which it hasn’t shown versus two decent offenses in Minnesota and Portland, Nick Lima’s time will be sparse.
The rematch comes on June 2nd in Providence Park. Until then, the Quakes have games versus Colorado, Orlando, and the L.A. Galaxy to refine their new style of attack.