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Takeaways From The San Jose Earthquakes Week

The Earthquakes ended their three game in seven day stretch with four points

The San Jose Earthquakes ended their three-game in seven days stretch with four points. A draw at FC Dallas felt like points dropped as they were derailed by a penalty kick and an own goal. A home match against New York Red Bulls proved a lot easier than thought, especially against a team struggling as bad as New York. The Earthquake’s then took on a team in Portland who were in the same boat as New York. San Jose outplayed them, and still lost 3-1. In a weird week, here are five takeaways from the last three games.

Takeaways From The San Jose Earthquakes Week

Simon Dawkins Isn’t As Bad As We Thought

After three unimaginative performances and a red card in his first three matches, many Earthquakes fans were ready already writing off winter designated player signing, Simon Dawkins. Dawkins returned in style in his first game back from suspension with a sweet assist on Alberto Quintero’s goal. He only played 14 minutes against New York, mostly with the game already out of reach. Dawkins then played a full 90 minutes against the Portland Timbers. He created chances and completed nearly 90 percent of his passes. As most players do, Dawkins just needed a little bit of time to adjust to MLS again. Most attacking players need a bit of time to adjust to the speed and physicality of the game. Hopefully, that was the case for Dawkins’ first few games back in the league. The bottom line on Dawkins? HE’S FINE.

Anibal Godoy And Fatai Alashe Shouldn’t Play Together

The Earthquakes have made plenty of signings the last two seasons, trying to overhaul the dumpster-fire of a roster that John Doyle gave Mark Watson and Frank Yallop in 2013 and 2014. It is pretty clear that the best signing of them all, (WAY better than any of the DP signings) was the acquisition of Anibal Godoy at the end of the season. Bringing on Godoy gave them a top notch midfielder who can tackle, make smart decisions with the ball, and provide a force defensively in the middle of the field. Unfortunately, they have two players who are really good at that. If San Jose wants to play them together, Kinnear must decide whether he wants to play with two strikers or two defensive midfielders. They won’t be able to do both over an entire season and get the necessary results to make the postseason.

When Fatai Alashe and Anibal Godoy play together, there is not really an attacking mindset or much creativity from the central midfield. Yes, Chris Wondolowski loves to drop deep and roam all over the field. But that doesn’t satisfy the role that Tommy Thompson or Matias Perez Garcia (better known as MPG) can play. What happens when they play together is either they get pushed up high and there is a major gap between them and the backline, or the wingers pinch in centrally to provide that combination centrally with the strikers. In order to still provide width, the outside backs often get pushed up high. This, in turn, leaves the old and slow San Jose Center Backs exposed on the counter attack, just like they did in Portland. Simple solution? If you play both Alashe and Godoy, you must swap Quincy for Perez Garcia or Thompson. If you want to keep the Wondo/Quincy tandem up top, then you must take out one of the defensive midfielders for one of the Attacking Midfielders. The ideal midfield, in my opinion, would be Dawkins/Godoy/Thompson/MPG

Andres Imperiale Belongs At Center Back As Long As He’s Healthy

Imperiale was a very quiet signing for the Earthquakes this off-season. So far, he’s proved to be the best of the signings in the off-season. He replaced an injured Clarence Goodson prior to the match against the Galaxy, and since then has proved he belongs on the backline. Quite frankly, we may be seeing the end of Victor Bernardez as a permanent fixture on the ‘Quakes backline. Upon the return of Clarence Goodson, if the pairing of Imperiale and Goodson is successful, then you can expect Bernardez to be on the bench for a while. He’s been significantly slower this season, and quite frankly is extremely unpredictable. He can be rash and reckless and get sent off, he can be incredibly disciplined, or he can lose his head and score an own goal. Normally I wouldn’t bring up the own goal thing, but he’s had three in the last couple seasons that have cost San Jose significant points. Imperiale’s distribution out of the backline is another thing that gives him a leg up on Bernardez. Expect to see Imperiale on the field for San Jose a lot during the rest of this season. There also is the possibility of him playing at Left Back, as he played there for Saprissa. I don’t think he’s a permanent fix at left back but could provide some help there if Kip Colvey and Shaun Francis’ play continues to be rather suspect.

Innocent Emeghara Has Proved To Be A Massive Waste Of Money

I normally like to defend players, especially players that teams spend a lot of money on. I’m done defending Innocent. As a designated player, he can’t make an impact when he comes on. Not making the starting XI is excusable, given the amount of chemistry and production from the Wondolowski/Amarikwa partnership. Perez Garcia rarely makes the starting XI anymore, so not starting is not the issue. Garcia actually makes an impact in the time he’s on the field. He doesn’t disappear, he gets right into the game and starts creating chances. Innocent has not shown the initiative to even get into the starting lineup once since being healthy again, and when he does come in, you would hardly notice. In fact, you would probably notice a dip in quality from the player he replaces. Overall, he’s proved to be a massive bust for the ‘Quakes. If he doesn’t make an impact by June, Doyle and the front office would be wise to cut their losses and search for a DP who fits a need (LEFT BACK!!!), and will make an impact.

Colvey and Francis Aren’t The Answer At Left Back

Kip Colvey has been a heck of a story. A supplemental draft pick, made the ‘Quakes roster and has taken hold of his opportunities. In the 3-1 loss to Portland, Colvey’s lack of experience caught up with him. He got caught pushing up too far, and ultimately made the wrong decision in his challenge with Jack Mcinerney which led to a goal. While he may be the answer in the future, he isn’t the answer in the present. Neither is Shaun Francis for that matter. Francis is great going forward as a left back. He chooses the right times to overlap, and he can provide great service into the box. But, his shortcomings on defense have been exposed this season. Notably, he committed a stupid foul inside the 18 which led to an easy PK goal in Dallas, and he inexplicably lost Patrick Nyarko on his goal in the 1-1 home draw to D.C. United. So if Francis and Colvey aren’t the answer at left back, then who is?

The answer is probably best left as TBD (To Be Determined). Kofi Sarkodie made a decent debut against Portland and he can play on both sides of the back line. Ultimately, I don’t think he should be the starting left back. He is best suited as a depth player as an outside back. The ‘Quakes have two options here. They can search for an answer from within which would need a change of formation to suit all three center backs (3-5-2), or testing Imperiale out at Left Back. The best option, in my opinion, is to sell Innocent and go out and get a designated player at left back. Not a 34-year-old left back who is coming to MLS to sit on a beach all day. They need a solid left back who is: under the age of 32, can provide Francis level attacking qualities, and can actually be competent on the defensive side of things. Here are the best 3 options for a DP left back in San Jose taking into account, playing style fit, age, and ability:

  1. Domenico Criscito- 29-Zenit St. Petersburg: Expressed interest in coming to MLS, still a quality player. Perfect fit, for a big need.
  2. Emilio Izaguirre-29-Celtic F.C: ‘Quakes have a history of grabbing central American players, and Izaguirre fits the mold perfectly.
  3. Cristian Villagra- 29-Rosario Central: Good fit in playing style, and like many before him, the payout on Argentinians is a lot of $$$$$$$

The San Jose Earthquakes next match is Sunday afternoon. They will host Sporting Kansas City for the first time this season. You can catch it on ESPN at 12:30PT/3:30ET.

Main Photo: Thearon W. Henderson, Getty Images


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