In the span of three games, Espinoza has two assists and one goal. The mercurial winger’s excellent play is a perfect encapsulation of Luchi’s transformation. For the first time in years, it feels like a change has finally materialized.
Unlike seasons past where the team’s start felt like fool’s gold, there is a different feeling to this team. They are playing beautiful soccer that fits perfectly into today’s MLS.
What a start to the season for Espinoza. His free flowing style fits perfectly into what Luchi envisions for his side. Not only is the offense hitting their stride, but the defense finally looks to be stabilized.
With such a great game for most of the team, there are barely any negatives. Unlike his fellow forwards, Cade Cowell has continued to be unimpressive. In addition, Luchi’s sub patterns continue to provider very little, outside Akapo last week,
Starting the season in this form is fantastic, but the team has to ensure that it continues. The season is still so young, but there is new life in San Jose.
Many expected the team to take some time to adapt to Luchi’s system, but in the span of three games, the Quakes have played some of the best soccer in MLS. Almost every player looks to be thriving under Luchi’s freeing style of play.
Espinoza hasn’t just been the Quakes’ MVP, but he has been one of the best players in the league. Currently averaging a goal contribution a game, he is the creative lifeline of this side. While he has been great since his arrival, this feels like Espinoza’s breakout.
Luchi has allowed him to be totally free, more like a center attacking mid than winger. This is seen in how Espinoza has roamed from the right to the center of the pitch, occupying space behind Ebobisse. By being able to stretch or compress the field, Espinoza opens up so much room for his teammates.
Monteiro, until his red card, continued his fine form with his ability to carry the ball forward bringing so much creativity. Marcinkowski also looked great and, for now, seems to have won the goalkeeper battle.
A year ago the Quakes’ defense was one of the worst in MLS, now with the pairing of Mensah and Rodrigues, they look formidable. Mensah brings that veteran calmness that allows him to orchestrate the backline. Rodrigues has been excellent in his more ball playing role and looks more assured next to Mensah than with Nathan.
Gruezo had his best game with the Quakes, as he made sure that every counter by the Rapids was broken up. The chemistry with Monteiro and Yueill looks great and Gruezo does the dirty work for them, allowing both players to help up the pitch. Akapo and Trauco both put in great spells and should be the starters from here on out.
The Luchi revolution is finally here and so many players have been the benefactors of it. Led by MVP Espinoza, the Quakes have potentially to shake things up in the west.
To be honest, it’s a shame to focus on any negatives, as the team looks solid right now. However, there are still a few issues worth addressing.
This was supposed to be the season where Cade makes that next jump, but he has been the least impactful forward. It’s not that he has struggled to fit in with Luchi’s role, as he’s been allotted a lot of freedom. Cade’s constantly been given chances with the ball, but has struggled to make anything of it.
It’s concerning that in his third, but second full, MLS season he is still failing to show any leaps. He has struggled with reading the field and making correct plays, which has made him useless in this attack. Perhaps Luchi should consider bringing him off the bench and having him build his path to the starting lineup.
In addition, Luchi’s sub patterns have been a little weak. Oftentimes the subs come on way too late or have been totally ineffective. Outside of Akapo last week, not a single sub has been that helpful on either side of the ball.
Given that this is only his third game, it’s somewhat acceptable that Luchi’s sub-patterns have been lacking. It’ll take some time and tweaking to fully build a correct pattern and may not yield any real results until a month in. Honestly, the only real concern should be in how ineffective Benji has looked off the bench.
Thankfully for Quakes fans, the positives outweigh the negatives and there is plenty of time to correct those errors. However, fans should still keep their eyes on the way Luchi tries to fix these problems.
For the first time in close to a decade, good vibes are back. Luchi has tapped into this team’s full potential and has so many of these players performing well. Could San Jose finally be back?
Player and Manager Ratings:
GK– Marcinkowski- 7
DF– Akapo- 7
DF– Mensah- 7
DF– Rodrigues- 7
MD– Gruezo- 7
MD– Yueill- 6
MD– Monteiro- 6
FW– Cowell- 5
FW– Ebobisse- 7
Featured image: San Jose Earthquakes