Amid significant absences, the Quakes faced Toronto on Saturday. Luchi had to dig deep into his bag and reshape the team. The result was a draw that left both fans and players alike feeling like the Quakes should have won.
Due to a mixture of injuries and international duties, the Quakes went into Saturday a little empty handed. Instead of totally capitulating, Luchi and the team were able to get a solid draw against a good Toronto side.
It’s remarkable to see just how much this team’s defense has improved under Luchi. For almost the entire game, the Quakes’ defenders kept Toronto quiet. In addition, Luchi’s subs did pay off for the first time this season.
One of the things that became apparent in the game was how important Monteiro is and the lack of any replacement the team has. His absence forced Luchi into making some strange tactical choices that robbed the Quakes of a lot of creativity. There’s also the concerning form of Cade Cowell, who has been both frustrating and fascinating.
While it wasn’t a win, the result of this game was characteristic of a playoff caliber side. It was a good professional draw amidst some significant absences.
This draw did offer fans some positive developments especially defensively and with Luchi’s subs. If the Quakes continue to build on these, it’ll be a great way to mold themselves into a playoff side.
Rodrigues had his best match in a Quakes jersey and should have had a goal or two. The Brazilian was immense in all aspects of the game, stopping attacks and pushing the ball forward. He also showed his willingness to be involved on set pieces as a real threat.
Mensah’s transfer will continue to go down as a win, as he has helped Rodrigues settle down and become a leader. The pairing has been really tough to break down and they complement each other better than Nathan did last season with Rodrigues. Akapo continues his good form and looks like the right back the Quakes have spent years looking for.
For the past few games, Luchi had struggled with his sub patterns, either making them at the wrong team or with the wrong personnel. Against Toronto, he sensed the moves the team needed and made them at the correct times.
Thompson was the best sub of the night and almost won them the game, but he brought desperately needed energy to a side lacking it. Bouda contributed more in his cameo than Cade did, signaling that he deserves more playing time. While Baldisimo didn’t have a bad game, Judson’s introduction stabilized the team and pushed Yueill forward.
Luchi is clearly growing as a manager but he has a solid foundation to grow on. This is the path forward for the team.
Fans watching may have felt the desire to nod off during some portions of this match. Likely due to the lack of creativity, there were some issues that held back the Quakes.
With Monteiro and Gruezo out, amongst others, Luchi had to change both his tactics and formation. Shifting from a 4-3-3 to a 4-4-2 was meant to add more attacking firepower to the side with a more defensive midfield. The team clearly had plenty of threats but only two creative players in Espinoza and Yueill.
This lack of creators made it near impossible for the Quakes to produce quality chances outside individual brilliance. Luchi’s decision to play Cowell alongside Ebobisse up top hurt both players, as they were forced to work in tandem up top rather than create for each other. Why start Cade up top with Benji on the wing, when Cade is better on the wing and Benji better as a striker?
Benji has struggled to start the season and contributed almost nothing on Saturday, as his limitations on the wing were shown. Baldisimo had some good moments, but would be much better in a three man midfield.
All this leads back to the player who has disappointed the most this season, Cade Cowell. Earlier in the week, he gave an interview stating that he is ready to make the move to Europe. Saturday’s performance showed a player that is clearly not ready to move to bigger pastures.
Outside of one good control, Cowell was anonymous, contributing close to nothing on both sides of the ball. Part of this is on Luchi, as Cade is not a striker and too often drifted to the wing, taking up space for the wingers. It was also another game where he struggled to put anything on target or create any chances for his fellow attackers.
For the most part, Saturday’s struggles were that of a novice coach who had to adapt to key players missing. Sprinkle that with disappointing performances and you get a drab draw.
Despite the draw, the Quakes’ good start to the season continued with the result against Toronto. Luchi did a good job setting up the defense, but showed limitations with his offensive tinkering. Quakes will play Houston next and need to secure a win or face a mediocre run.
Player and Manager Ratings:
GK– Marcinkowski- 8
DF– Akapo- 7
DF– Mensah- 7
DF– Rodrigues- 9
MD– Baldisimo- 5
MD– Yueill- 6
FW– Kikanović- 4
FW– Cowell- 5
FW– Ebobisse- 6
Featured image: San Jose Earthquakes