The San Jose Earthquakes lost 4-2 to the rival L.A. Galaxy at home on Saturday night. The loss was the first home loss for San Jose all season, and L.A.’s second regular season win in the Bay Area since San Jose’s return in 2008 (the overall record was 7-1-5 prior to Saturday’s game).
After what many thought was a solid full-back pairing with Cordell Cato and Nick Lima, a pairing that shut down FC Dallas, Dom Kinnear opted to pair Cato with Kofi Sarkodie, the same tandem that brought the Quakes a 3-0 loss in Colorado. In fact, the only difference between Saturday’s lineup and the Colorado lineup was Tommy Thompson starting in place of the injured Anibal Godoy. If the Quakes couldn’t beat Colorado with that line-up, don’t expect points against a better-than-Colorado Galaxy side, especially without Godoy.
There were no shortage of goals. Wondo scored the game’s first goal off a peach of a cross from Danny Hoesen at 10′. At 19′, Cordell Cato and Flo Jungwirth both closed in on Ashley Cole, leaving a wide-open Joao Pedro alone for L.A.’s equalizer. Gio converted his PK at 38′, which was equalized by Danny Hoesen off a Tommy Thompson through-ball a few minutes later. Kofi Sarkodie lost his mark, Bradley Diallo, who found the ball and put in a solid cross, which ricocheted off Victor Bernardez and past David Bingham for the game winner. Gio would ice the victory with a break-away goal at 64′ by way of a Cato dispossession; Nick Lima appeared to tire out on his pursuit of Gio. To be fair, Gio started his run well ahead of Lima, who was supposed to be marked by Bernardez, but Victor simply didn’t have the speed to keep pace.
After going down 4-2, the Quakes regressed to their “spray and pray” style of crossing the ball and hoping to find an open forward, but the Galaxy were up for the challenge. The Quakes pumped in 29 crosses on the game to zero forwards that are a true #9, only six actually found a San Jose player. Jelle Van Damme’s size allowed him to rack up 12 clearances.
Sarkodie’s numbers prove he should not be playing, let alone starting. Per 90, Kofi averages 1.1 tackles per game, 2.3 clearances per game, and 1.6 interceptions per game. Lima? 2.3 tackles, 2.5 interceptions, and 3.7 clearances per 90. Lima is a much better defender who has proven himself capable on both sides, yet Sarkodie found himself in the starting XI, to the unbelief of many Quakes fans. Sarkodie was also the culprit on Bradley Diallo’s foul inside the 18, which gave Giovani Dos Santos the go-ahead PK goal.
Marco Urena is another Quake that needs serious reevaluation. In 14 games played, Urena has one goal on 10 shots on target with an average of two shots per game. Urena’s production cost of one goal every 14 games is a price too high for any forward. Urena finished with 2 shots, one on target, and two key passes.
Cordell Cato is hit and miss. He continues to play extremely high for a fullback as much of his time is in the attacking third. While he does have the speed to make up for playing high, he also needs to remember that he is a defender a no longer a midfielder.
Wondo continues to be the engine for the Quakes offense: four shots, one on target for the goal. He found some help in Danny Hoesen, who netted identical stats: four shots, one on target for the goal.
However, it would be premature to jump on the Danny Hoesen train after Urena’s poor performance, especially after Hoesen netted his first goal. While Hoesen did finish with four shots, one shot on target (which was his goal), he also tallied up NINE turnovers (three dispossessions, six unsuccessful first touches). Both Hoesen and Urena have been underwhelming this season, and could be replaced by DP forward during the transfer window to help take the pressure off Wondo.
In their previous four Western Conference games, the Quakes have beaten two teams that were above of them in the standings while losing to two teams that were below them. Inconsistency cost the Quakes a spot in the playoffs in 2015 and 2016, and it’s rearing its ugly head already in 2017.
The Quakes play a rematch versus the Portland Timbers FC in Portland on Friday.