A win for any other club can be business as usual, but for the flailing San Jose Earthquakes, the win was more than a nice way to end a game.
A dominating performance versus the Portland Timbers in which the Quakes out-everything’d their opponent demonstrated that the team has not given up on the season as many fans already had prior to kickoff. The Quakes generated three goals on 13 shots on target, 12 of them coming from inside the 18. The team also stymied Portland’s attack: seven blocked shots and just four shots on target, including the penalty kick. The win was not luck.
The team featured an overhauled lineup of young players: Marcos Lopez, Tommy Thompson, Jackson Yueill, Flo Jungwirth (okay, Flo’s 30 and not that young), Nick Lima, and Eric Calvillo. The team implemented Almeyda’s man-marking system perfectly, often disrupting passes and recovering on defense much more effectively than previous lineups. Clearly the youth are the future for the club this season.
Not be outshine, Harold Cummings had his best game for San Jose this season. Four tackles, four clearances, three blocked shots, and an interception helped to secure the shutout (Vega helped Cummings’s cause by saving a PK after Cummings was flagged for a handball in the box).
Anibal Godoy was better: five tackles, four interceptions, four clearances, one blocked shot. Wow.
Three questions will linger for Quakes Head Coach Matias Almeyda after Saturday’s win. With Flo Jungwirth demonstrating his defensive prowess as center-back, has he taken over Guram Kashia’s spot once Kashia returns from injury?
The team clearly played better without Vako in the starting XI. Vako was also the one of the few players to shoot from outside the 18. Is this the end of the team’s highest paid player as a featured starter?
Nick Lima made his presence known. Seeing his first minutes since New York, Lima entered the match with his name resounding throughout the stadium. He scored a cracker a few minutes later only to have the goal overturned via VAR. Clearly he’s still a potent player and worthy of more minutes. Should Lima take over as left-back for Marcos Lopez? Or should Tommy Thompson be moved to Eriksson’s attacking midfield role with Lima taking over at left-back?
A beautiful win is always better than winning ugly. With a re-energized team and a hopeful fan-base, Saturday’s win could be a catalyst for the team going forward. Start getting excited.
I apologize for no match pictures; my memory cards and all the game pictures were lost after the game.