For the first time since Levi’s opening, the Quakes got a chance to play an MLS game there on Saturday. LAFC are one of the premier clubs of MLS and would give the Quakes a chance to see how much they’ve progressed. In what should be a contender for game of the season, the Quakes beat the MLS champs in a convincing manner.
This was the game fans had circled to see whether the changes Luchi has implemented actually matter. Quakes’ teams of years past may have laid an egg, but this new look side came out victorious.
Espinoza will steal all the headlines, as he should, but the overall team performance was impressive. Many would have expected LAFC’s star studded midfield to dominate, but the Quakes’ midfield controlled the midfield. Marie had his best game of the season and showed why he still gets to start.
As it has been over the past few weeks, there were some concerning moments for the backline. They were too easily spread apart with not enough players tracking back. This was another week with the subs having little to no impact, as they came on way too late.
Given the difficulty of this matchup, this was a shot at the rest of the western conference. With this win, and the start to the season, the Quakes are now among the elite in the west.
All season long, the offense has been the highlight for this team. This new look attack has been helped out with a creative midfield.
If the MVP award was awarded today, it’d be hard not to give it to Espinoza. Since his arrival in San Jose, the Argentine has been great, but this season, he’s become elite. His mixture of scoring and creating make him the biggest threat in MLS.
One of the best aspects of this side has been the interplay between Ebobisse and Espinoza. The striker is constantly involved in the buildup and gets into position to finish off any chance. You can tell the two of them are always looking for the other.
Marie has had an up and down season so far, but he was excellent on Saturday. He was decent defensively and a gamechanger in the attack.
Watching the Quakes’ midfield compete against LAFC’s stars was amazing to watch. Gruezo popped up everywhere, stopping or containing most of LAFC’s chances. This gave the backline an extra defender and the attack a pivot point.
Monteiro and Yueill were so great in pushing the play forward. Yueill’s transformation into the connector between defending and attacking has opened up the team’s options going forward. Monteiro has been the creative hub in the center.
Saturday’s game was a masterclass of everything that has gone well for the team this year. From a high flying attack to a dominating midfield, Luchi’s men got everything they wanted against LAFC.
Despite all the positives, there were still a few concerns to take from this game. These issues have been some that have plagued the teams for weeks now.
At the start of the season, the backline was excellent and solid. As teams have been able to gameplan and figure out the weaknesses, the team has had more and more defensive issues. Since the team gives everything on the attack, they are easily caught out of position.
Mensah and Rodrigues bring their own positive qualities to the side, but can be exposed in their own ways. Mensah is such an excellent ball stopper, but struggles to be impactful on ball. Rodrigues is often too eager to stop the attack and moves towards whoever has the ball, leaving open space.
Luchi has continued to struggle with his sub patterns and makes them too late. The Benji-Cade sub has been weird to see, as neither player has found a way to be impactful. Judson is the only sub who has had a positive impact, but no other sub has found a way to help the side.
While LAFC didn’t expose the Quakes totally, there needs to be some rectification of these problems. It’s too early to start talking about playoffs, these are issues that playoff teams will tear apart.
Saturday’s game was the Quakes’ announcement to the rest of the league that they are real. They took down one of the league’s elite and showed that Luchi’s changes are working. For the first time in a while, the good vibes are coming back to San Jose.
Player and Manager Ratings:
GK– Marcinkowski- 7
DF– Marie- 8
DF– Mensah- 6
DF– Rodrigues- 6
DF– Trauco- 6
MD– Gruezo- 7
MD– Yueill- 8
MD– Monteiro- 7
FW– Cowell- 6
FW– Ebobisse- 8
FW– Espinoza- 9
Featured image: San Jose Earthquakes