Saturday was another tough away match for the Quakes. Despite having some good chances, they were torn apart by a hungrier RSL side. Luchi will need to leave this match, having learned his lesson.
The Quakes’ third loss of the season was another struggle fest on the road. It also laid bare some of the issues with the roster.
As it has been for most of the season, the Quakes’ right side is the creative hub. Akapo and Espinoza’s chemistry brings excellent balance to the team. With a free kick that was tipped in, Espinoza continued his MVP push.
One of the areas that Luchi has struggled with is utilizing his bench. He has failed to find a combination of players that can have an impact off the bench. This was a game that could have been switched up with the correct sub.
This was another game that showed the growing pains that come with a new coach. It was a bad loss but can serve as a learning opportunity.
The only part of this Quakes’ side that has found constant success this season is their offense. Espinoza and Akapo have found a chemistry that defines this team.
Everything runs through Espinoza, as the winger is the ultimate connector for this side. His dangerous free kick didn’t go in without help, but indeed another mark of his impressive start. It’s a shame that the rest of the offense failed to keep up with him.
There should be no doubt that Akapo is the right back the Quakes have spent almost a decade searching for. His veteran presence does so much in helping the defense, managing to pop up wherever the opponents are. On the offensive side, Akapo is able to whip crosses in and operate in Espinoza’s open space.
Yueill and Monteiro were effective in moving the ball forward and opened up space for Cade and Ebobisse. They worked in tandem to shift from winning the ball back to finding Espinoza in space. Gruezo had a mediocre game, but his presence still freed up his two other midfield partners.
Overall, the team has no issues operating offensively in Luchi’s system. They have a high-powering offense that can score at will when things work. So much of their success stems from how much space Luchi finds for his team.
On the positive side of things, the Quakes have continued their hot start offensively. Espinoza has continued to put together a case for MVP while lifting his team up.
Every loss for the Quakes this season has come on the road and been a bad one. Yes, RSL scored some belters, but they were the deserved winners.
All season Luchi has failed to get anything from his bench. It’s always been the same players at the same time, regardless of the situation. This has made it difficult for the team to find new ways of using those fresh legs.
Cowell was useless for most of the game, but it was clear that attacking from the wings was the way to go. Kikanović isn’t that winger and is better suited to be that backup striker to Ebobisse. Bouda was the correct choice, but he needs to be introduced earlier.
The other sub-choices are fine, as Judson is the perfect player to bring in to close a game. It’s the other subs where the game is won and lost.
Real Salt Lake won the game by hitting the Quakes on the counter and tearing the backline with their speed. Neither Mensah or Rodrigues are pacey defenders, so they were spread apart by the RSL front line and picked their chances. Akapo also dropped back, but Marie failed to track back and RSL exploited that.
This was really the first team that the Quakes’ backline had been pressured like this. It’s concerning that the team folded whenever they lost the ball. Teams that thrive on the counter may see this as the Quakes’ Achilles heel.
With another tough loss under his belt, Luchi must learn how to manage a game better. You can’t let these losses go unreflected.
Saturday’s game was a typical Quakes loss where the team was cut apart, and the bench could not help. It’s still early on in the season, but it would be nice to see Luchi learning how to manage his bench better. Next week will be the toughest game for the Quakes, as they face Austin FC, and the team needs a win.
Player and Manager Ratings:
GK– Marcinkowski- 6
DF– Akapo- 7
DF– Mensah- 5
DF– Rodrigues- 5
MD– Gruezo- 5
MD– Yueill- 6
MD– Monteiro- 6
FW– Cowell- 5
FW– Ebobisse- 6
FW– Espinoza- 8
Featured Image: San Jose Earthquakes