San Jose, CA- In what was easily one of the worst performances the San Jose Earthquakes have put together all season, they drew 0-0 with New England Revolution. We’ll take a look at where it went wrong, what’s next, and are playoffs even realistic?
Earthquakes Listless in Scoreless Draw
Here is a match recap for you:
What contributed to that? First off, is set pieces.
Set Piece Issues
The San Jose Earthquakes took a total of nine set pieces tonight, and we’ll be generous and say they only cleared the first man on two of them. That in itself isn’t going to be good enough. Three of them came on positions wide of the 18-yard box, one came from about thirty yards out. The one that cleared the first man was of course the free kick from about thirty yards out. With how much of the ‘Quakes offense is predicated on getting crosses, or square passes sent in from wider positions, you would think they could find an accurate cross. Especially from a dead-ball situation.
Quincy Amarikwa left the match in the 34th minute with a left ankle-injury. It was disappointing, considering Quincy looked the best he had in a while. That injury brought on Chad Barrett, who seemed to be the only Earthquake player that had the balls to take a shot when in possession around the 18. Barrett’s fitness, which has been an issue plaguing his entire career, knocked him out of the game for the final fifteen minutes. The ‘Quakes brought on new signing Henok Goitom, who registered the boys in blue’s only shot on target this game. Goitom brought life, but just couldn’t find goal at the end.
Chris Wondolowski is always a touchy subject for ‘Quakes fans, and most US Men’s National Team fans as well. I refuse to speak of the incident that happened in Brazil in ’14, because we’re past that now. Wondo has always been a great servant to the Earthquakes, and will forever be a fan favorite. However, his dip in goal-scoring form MUST be a concern for ‘Quakes fans. Wondo has scored two goals in his last 12. For a team that has major issues scoring, this is a big absence. Since Wondo scored his first goal for the club, he’s scored more than 50% of San Jose’s goals in all competitions. If they are going to make the playoffs, he needs to be on the scoresheet much more often.
Dom Kinnear’s tactics have been quite confusing this season. With the loads of injuries, Dom has been forced to abandon his primary gameplan, to put together something relatively cohesive. The Earthquakes were completely healthy for this match, and tonight’s tactics were a complete swing and a miss. The Earthquakes managed one shot on goal in 90 minutes against MLS’ worst defense. Yes, they out-possessed New England, had the ball more in the opponents half. But with 52% possession, they still couldn’t out-chance New England? The gameplan was predicated on pinning New England into their half, and then trying to break them down with crosses. Unfortunately, every cross either hit the first man, or the forwards made the wrong runs. Am I blaming that on Kinnear?
The answer is no.
Player execution has played a major role in the Earthquakes results this season. However, you can’t continue to breakdown 11 men behind the ball with simple balls floated into the penalty spot. If you are going to breakdown a bunkering team, it’s more difficult for them to defend against runners that their backs are facing. When everybody is turned facing the ball in front of them, the ‘Quakes forwards are easy to track. They failed to get in-behind the backline and send in crosses from angles that make it difficult to track the ball, or the runs. Kinnear could have at least adjusted the gameplan.
So what now?
With 25 games played the San Jose Earthquakes are sitting on 32 points. That keeps them a point ahead of Seattle, and level with Portland. They have a game in hand on Portland, and Portland and Seattle play each other this weekend. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the “Red-Line” for the Western Conference is going to be around 50 points. That means the Earthquakes would potentially need to win at least five of their final nine games. Six wins exactly would give them fifty points, but you always have to allow for the draw or two. Basically, if the Earthquakes lose three or four of their final run-in, they won’t be making the postseason.
“PLAYOFFS?! PLAYOFFS?! WE’RE TALKING ABOUT PLAYOFFS?! THIS TEAM CAN’T GET MORE THAN ONE SHOT ON GOAL AGAINST THE LEAGUE’S WORST DEFENSE, AND WE’RE TALKING ABOUT PLAYOFFS?!” -If Jim Mora was the San Jose Earthquakes Coach
The San Jose Earthquakes next match is Saturday, August 28th visiting Columbus Crew SC. Kickoff is at 4:30pt/7:30et.