A good and professional win has been hard to come by for the San Jose Earthquakes for a few years now, dating back to the days before Almeyda. However, against a good Colorado Rapids side, Alex Covelo’s side finally put together a professional and dominant performance. For the first time in a while, it finally feels like progress has been made.
Alex Covelo has the Quakes playing well and against Colorado, fans saw a side of the team that not many were expecting. In a clear departure from the high flying chaotic days of Almeyda, this Quakes side controlled the game and went about their win in a professional manner.
Since his appointment, Covelo has aimed to blend some aspects of Almeyda’s tactics with schemes that have worked in the MLS. This has meant keeping the fluidity of Almeyda’s offense with a focus on ball retention and the abandoning of the man marking system. In turn, this has tremendously helped certain players while stabilizing a team that had been the worst in the league.
Negatives were hard to come by, as every part of the Quakes was firing on all cylinders from the defense to the forward line. While most fans hoped to see Ousseni Bouda play, Covelo’s substitutions were incredible and showed a manager who knew what a game needs in certain moments. Even the defense looked competent, albeit there were still a few concerns.
For a while now, fans have been waiting to see their team win in a convincing manner where they have controlled the game from the start and against the Rapids, they finally got that. With two wins out of three for Covelo, it seems that things are finally trending in the right direction.
From the opening whistle, the Quakes seemed ready and willing to take control of the game, as Covelo’s side had the lion’s share of the possession from the beginning onward. The team’s performance was less of a club that was bottom of the league and more of a playoff caliber team.
Covelo’s lineup and formation choices for the game were a positive start and showed a manager that was adapting after every game, testing different styles as he becomes more experienced. The choice to move Monteiro into the middle of the pitch and moving Cade to the left was a great choice. By allowing Monteiro to dictate play from the middle, it gave the Quakes’ best creative player the freedom and space to carve through the Colorado defense.
In a surprising way, the Quakes finished with over 150 passes more than the Rapids, twice as many crosses and over 100 touches, showing the team’s dominant performance. A lot of that can be attributed to the creative trio of Espinoza, Greguš and Monteiro with 10 shot creating actions between them.
The midfield duo of Greguš and Yueill has been great for the side and has effectively pushed out both Judson and Remedi, as the duo present a much more balanced midfield. With a combined 97 passes on 85.5% completion, the duo was able to be the connectors between the defense and offense. Greguš is allowed to play a little further up and Yueill can dictate play from deeper, creating a balanced duo that isn’t there when one of Judson or Remedi starts.
Defensively the Quakes have struggled all season, but for the first time, the team shut out a team for the first time this season. Nathan’s return has been a godsend with his presence adding some stability to the backline and covering up defensive mistakes. With two tackles won, three interceptions and a goal, it’s hard to argue that Nathan wasn’t the team’s best player.
One of the players who has seemingly benefitted from Nathan’s return has been Paul Marie who has been allowed to ease up on his defensive actions which made him much more efficient in the back. Four interceptions and three tackles on the night show that Marie has the potential to be a positive on defense and his stats this season put him amongst the elite defenders at the right back position.
J.T. Marcinkowski has been the victim of terrible defenses for the past few seasons, but his numbers and play have shown that he is a talented keeper. In Saturday’s game, he finished with 5 saves with some bailing out defensive mistakes. With a more stable defensive line, hopefully MLS fans will see Marcinkowski’s talent and his excellence at starting play from the back.
For the first time this season, the Quakes convincingly won in a manner that is more similar to a playoff regular than a team that was the worst in the league this season. Hopefully this form will last, as the team does seem to be enjoying this run with Covelo bringing back life to this side.
Again, there was little to be found in terms of negatives for the Quakes, as all aspects were firing on all cylinders. The only real negatives can be found in some regression for certain players, but that may be the result of the change from Almeyda to Covelo.
Marcos López so far this season has struggled to replicate the performances from past seasons that had made him an interesting prospect for larger clubs. When comparing him to other fullbacks, his stats are below average with his progressive actions severely below average. This trend does seem to be concerning, given how much of what he brings is tied to his productivity on the offensive side.
For the most part, Covelo’s sub patterns have been great and he seems to understand what is needed at different moments, for example putting in Remedi towards the end to help the defense. Benji Kikanovic’s role as the first striker off the bench is good for him, but he always seems to enter too late to make an impact offensively, instead acting as a defensive forward. There is nothing wrong with wanting a more defensive option up top, but it takes away from some of Benji’s talents.
For the first time in a while, there isn’t too much to complain of for the Quakes, as Covelo seems to have found a winning formula. If he can figure out how to get the best out of López and his subs, he can unlock another dimension to this team.
A professional win has been the antithesis of the Quakes for years now, really dating back to 2013, but the game against Colorado is a positive step forward. With little negatives to speak of, the team is gelling together with all aspects of the side performing well. The rest of May will present some interesting tests for the Quakes with some matches against bottom dwellers and others against some of the best in the league.
Player and Manager Ratings:
GK– Marcinkowski- 9
DF– Marie- 7
DF– Nathan- 10
DF– Calvo- 6
MD– Yueill- 7
MD– Greguš- 7
MD– Monteiro- 8
FW– Cowell- 7
FW– Ebobisse- 7
Remedi- N/A(Didn’t play enough)
Kikanovic- N/A(Didn’t play enough)
Featured image: San Jose Earthquakes