In what was the Quakes’ best match of the season so far, the team tied the hottest team in the MLS and looked the better side for much of the second half. There were a lot of positives with the formation and player selection finally looking decent. With all that being said, they still failed to win and have yet to score a goal from open play this season, so it’s still not looking great for the Quakes.
Austin FC were always going to be a tough test, as the Texas side has been the most exciting side in the MLS, seemingly unable to stop scoring. Getting a draw was always going to be an impressive feat for the terrible Quakes, but they may feel a little disappointed to not have gotten the win.
When Matías Almeyda released his lineup for the game, it was full of changes that fans wanted to see with Jackson Yueill finally moved out of the defense. Not only was the lineup well constructed, but the substitutions he made changed the match completely. For the first time this season, the Quakes made sense with a nice combination of players.
Francisco Calvo’s miss at the death to win the Quakes the game was a good summary of the team’s struggles so far this season. A game winner was left on a silver platter, but the Quakes just couldn’t finish their chances. It just feels that the Quakes are still a little ways away from figuring out things completely, but it may be getting too late.
This was by far the team’s best game so far, as it seemed like the team figured some stuff out finally tactically. Still their own incompetencies sunk them, as they continue to remain at the bottom of the MLS.
The release of the starting eleven was a welcome sight with Almeyda being forced to shift players around due to injuries and performances. On top of that, the substitutions made changed the game and showcased the promising young players on the roster.
By far the most welcome sight to fans was Tanner Beason starting alongside Calvo with Yueill finally in the midfield. One of the worst sights this MLS season has been Yueill at center back as it made no sense to play one of the league’s most talented mids in the backline. This further robbed the team of creativity, as Almeyda opted to have a more defensive minded midfield.
Placing Yueill back in the midfield gave the attack more options, as Greguš could play make from deeper and allowed Yueill to be the connector between the defense and attack. Monteiro was able to hop up all over the pitch, opening up space for the wingers to bomb down the sides. Which in turn gave Ebobisse the space to run in behind the defense.
With the team desperately needing a change in the second half, Almeyda went with Ousseni Bouda and Niko Tsakiris to change the fortunes of the game. It worked well, as Bouda put in a better performance on the left wing and pushed Cowell to the right, which fit him better this game. Bouda’s great play resulted in him being taken down in the box for the penalty converted by Ebobisse.
Tsakiris was really impressive and the team seems to feel the same, as the academy product has been around the first team since preseason. Every great chance in the second half came from him, with the interplay between him and Thompson setting up that potential winner. While he probably isn’t ready to be the full time starter, his tantalizing potential means that the Quakes’ midfield is set for the future.
This game was the best so far and, hopefully, bodes well for the rest of the season, as it seems like some of the issues have finally been figured out. It was great to see the younger players get a run in and affect the game which seems to give credit to the youth movement currently at the club.
Calvo’s miss was the best summary of the Quakes so far, a team that is unable to score from open play as their defensive errors condemn them. The issues that have plagued them thus far have been largely due to issues stemming from their mixed bag of an offseason.
Not to keep bagging on Calvo, as he had a good game outside the miss, but it felt completely unnecessary to attempt that sort of volley with the keeper out and the ball falling to the feet. It would have been the team’s first goal from open play this season where they have scored 6 from dead balls. In addition, this would have been the team’s first win this season against a strong team.
This team seemingly refuses to score from open play, despite being gifted at scoring from dead balls they just go cold in front of goal. It’s going to be interesting to see how the team properly addresses this, as the player selection of the team this game was a positive step forward. Chofis’ return should also help the team and give them another playmaker in that midfield if Yueill plays there too.
Defensively the team is still struggling, as Beason and Calvo is just not a great partnership and the team desperately needs Nathan back. If Almeyda decides to keep giving young players a chance, which he absolutely should, he should give Ågren the chance to fight for a spot in the backline. The team invested a decent amount in bringing him in and he would fit into the side as the right footed defender.
Only three times in the league have a worse defensive record than the Quakes so far and only one other team in the west has given up ten goals so far. It has unfortunately been a theme of Almeyda’s time with the team, as the Quakes have had one of the worst defensive records in the MLS in recent memory. Does this mean the team should opt to bring in more cover at center or spend big on a right back, potentially, but for now their plan seems to be trusting that Nathan will be back soon.
With the team slowly, and hopefully, starting to turn the corner, they need to deal with a few problems that are strikingly obvious. The honestly impressive inability to score from open play and their horrific defensive record are the most pressing issues facing the team currently.
While this game was positive for the team, there were still underlying issues that the team has yet to properly deal with that has sunk them so far. Seeing the young players ball out was a welcome sight in what has been another disappointing season. With a game against another bottom team in Houston coming up next weekend, the Quakes must win or it might be time to call curtains on Almeyda.
Player and Manager Ratings:
GK– Marcinkowski- 7
DF– Marie- 6
DF– Calvo- 6
DF– Beason- 6
MD– Yueill- 7
MD– Greguš- 7
MD– Monteiro- 6
FW– Cowell- 8
FW– Ebobisse- 7
Featured Image: San Jose Earthquakes