Another worrying start to a season is nothing new to Quakes fans, with the team being outplayed in every game including the comeback against the Crew last week. Combine this start with the speculation over Matías Almeyda’s future and you get a storm that can derail a whole season. The start has continued to fuel the debate over how much longer Almeyda will be at the helm.
With only one point out of a possible nine and four goals scored with eight allowed, it’s safe to say that the Quakes’ season has not started well. To be fair to the team, they have played the three best teams in the eastern conference, as of this weekend, and their schedule should ease up soon.
Since the end of last season, Almeyda has made his displeasure with the team’s moves known more and more public with his comments after the first game of the season highlighting that. At the same time, Almeyda’s tactics have been figured out by the rest of the league, as his choices continue to fail.
It’s still early to be calling for his dismissal or his resignation, as plenty of teams have struggled to start the season only to go on and make some deep runs in the playoffs. In addition, some of Almeyda’s grievances are real with the lack of an MLS caliber right back really being felt. The midfield and forward line have been exciting with Monteiro’s addition looking really positive.
While it’s still early into the season, the questions regarding Almeyda’s tenure with the Quakes are getting louder and louder, as the team struggles. There are definitely pros and cons with calling time on Almeyda’s management of the team.
There is plenty of time for the team to turn things around, it’s just three games in, so giving Almeyda some time to right the ship would make sense. It’s true that the team has struggled against the good opposition that they’ve faced, but there are positive notes to take from those games.
While the goals haven’t poured in, the creativity of this side has been good to watch so far this season with Monteiro’s addition really adding another dimension to this offense. Monteiro has given the Quakes a real playmaker who can create space out of nothing with his technical ability. The team’s performance against Philadelphia shows just how important his role in the team is.
Monteiro’s ability has allowed for Almeyda to push Chofis to the wing, allowing him to cut in to try to score or play make. This creates nightmares for opposing defenses, as every player behind the striker can be a threat at any level. If Almeyda can figure out how to get the best out of Jeremy Ebobisse, then the Quakes could finally have that killer striker to replace Wondo.
In addition to Almeyda seemingly figuring out how to play Monteiro with Espinoza and Chofis, there have been some teams in recent years who have struggled to start the season to go on and be good. Last season, the Portland Timbers lost three of their first four games with their offense stalling and were able to turn things around to reach the finals. The Colorado Rapids are a better comparison given the talent on their roster and struggled to win throughout the season to finish second in the Supporter’s Shield race.
It is also true that over the past few seasons the Quakes have started the season struggling to find some semblance of success over the summer. Last year in the summer, the Quakes went on a 10 game streak without losing a game and in 2019, the team only lost 2 games out of 13 from May to August. The team does seem to struggle in the beginning only to find their footing in the summer.
With the season only three games deep, there is plenty of time for the team to turn things around with Almeyda showing that he can push the team to rebound later in the season. Monteiro’s addition has also allowed Almeyda a chance to be more creative for his offensive strategy and it has been positive.
This offseason was somewhat turbulent for the Quakes, as a new general manager had to balance the future of the team and Almeyda’s needs for the upcoming season. This, unsurprisingly, frustrated Almeyda with him airing his grievances, as his team struggles with his ineffective tactics.
In a trend that has surrounded the team since the offseason after Almeyda’s future, there has been speculation whether his time with the Quakes would finally end. From that offseason to this one, there have been rumors that a return to the Mexican league would be Almeyda’s preference. It doesn’t help that he’s had a strained relationship with the Quakes’ owner from the beginning
Coming into the first game of the season, Almeyda hinted that he would be free after his contract runs out in 10 months time while still saying that he wouldn’t mind staying with the team. In that same press conference he maintained the same act when discussing the transfer policy of the club. It is rare, in all sports, to see a manager being this frank about his position and makes the Quakes seem unserious.
If his results backed his willingness to be open to reporters about the club it would be more acceptable, but his schemes have never worked for a full season in the MLS. Almeyda’s man making system has worked at times, but once a team figures out how to beat the system, there is no back up plan. He hasn’t adapted his system as teams figure it out, leaving his players exposed and forced to fight back into a game rather than take control of the game from the onset.
The issue with making the decision to keep or fire Almeyda is that the club has no plan after Almeyda is gone with no one in the club seen as a successor. Part of this is that Almeyda’s training staff will remain with him should he leave, which makes sense as they work better together. On the other hand, it does seem that the team should have kept Ian Russell around the club for this situation.
It does seem like the Quakes’ future will not include Almeyda, as his, at times, justified criticisms of management and washed up strategy make this situation awkward and in need of a resolution soon. Things may get better, but not being prepared for the future will leave the club in a worse state than ever.
Almeyda’s tenure has not gone the way that Quakes fans hoped it would when he was announced four years ago, when it seemed like the Quakes had finally figured things out. In a way, it was and wasn’t his fault entirely with all sides being at fault at times.
His time with the team has been a success in some places, but a failure in others as time ticks down to the end of his contract. Without a doubt, his biggest success has been in player development with Jackson Yueill and Cade Cowell becoming stars under him. At the same time, the club has never been competitive with Almeyda with his system just not compatible with the MLS.
As another season begins disappointingly, the future surrounding Almeyda only gets murkier with no real solution either way being proposed, as the club will likely face a tumultuous year. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the club has to extend him or fire him tomorrow, but there needs to be a plan. Either way, it feels like the Quakes will deal with a quote from Ben Franklin, “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
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