After a rough road trip, the match against FC Dallas promised to be a chance to bounce back for the Quakes. It was also another match where the team could test themselves against a good side.
Instead, another late collapse kept the Quakes’ winless streak going.
Disappointment is the best word to describe this game. For most of the game, the Quakes were the better side and should have scored more.
As it has in recent weeks, the midfield did a good job of controlling the game. Espinoza continued his hot form, as he remains a viable MVP candidate. Also, Daniel stepped in and did a fine job in his return.
For a few weeks now, the great play that characterized the Quakes’ hot start has slowly started slipping. Multiple players have seen their form dip as this rough patch has continued. It’s not all on Luchi, but he has to find a way to make due with what he has.
It should have been a nice way to bring joy back to the fans, but this match against FC Dallas only brought more disappointment. Now all eyes are on Luchi to guide the team out of this spell.
There are some positives to take from this game. These positives primarily revolve around what has worked for the Quakes thus far.
One of the best changes Luchi has made has been in the midfield. By balancing the midfield and finding a way to play both Monteiro and Yueill, it makes the side way more dangerous. Yueill especially has been playing well, as he has been relieved of so many duties that Almeyda had straddled him with.
Perhaps the signing of the season for the Quakes, Gruezo is a big reason why this midfield works. By being the midfield anchor, he allows Monteiro and Yueill to focus almost solely on the attack. On Saturday, he showed just how valuable he is to the defense as well, covering for them whenever the defenders decided to push up.
After suffering an injury that sidelined him for a while, Daniel made his return on Saturday. While he didn’t bring the aggressiveness of Marcinkowski, the defense seemed more relaxed with him back there. Daniel isn’t the best with his feet, but he is an elite shot-stopper and kept the Dallas attack at bay for most of the game.
Finally, it was encouraging to see Espinoza play well, even if he didn’t score or assist. He dominated the game and was able to flow across the frontline to help where he could. The goals and assists will come back in time, but it’s good to see him not be weighed down by these expectations.
Luchi has done a good job of rebuilding this team, and Saturday’s game highlighted what he had done well. Bringing stability to this team was crucial, and the team is always a solid if not spectacular, team.
Saturday’s game also exposed some of the underlying issues with the side. It’s still a team with almost no margin of error that relies on players who don’t fit well into their roles.
With both Akapo, Cowell, and Mensah out, the bench is almost empty. On Saturday, there were perhaps only three MLS-level players that could be called upon. Even with the great additions the front office has done, it’s clear that depth has to be addressed in the summer.
Some players could help off the bench but have not been given the chance to play more. With Cowell out, Bouda should be playing a lot more; he’s the only player on this roster that can fill his role. Baldisimo has been a mixed bag, but it’s too early to write him off.
While this was Kikanović’s best game of the season, it’s clear that he’s more natural as a striker. Playing him on the wing forces the midfielders and left back to push up more to add more creativity but allows opponents more space on counters. His best role may be playing right next to Ebobisse or as his replacement.
Akapo’s absence is killing this team in so many different ways. Marie is a good MLS player, but he doesn’t bring the elite edge that Akapo does. In part, that’s why he would be more useful as the super-sub.
Luchi can’t be blamed for how thin this roster is, but he has to find a way to get more from this bench. Perhaps this means moving a player to the bench and promoting another to the starting lineup. Additionally, he should try to find ways to be more creative with his substitutions, recognizing what the moment calls for rather than following a pattern.
This is the first real test for this side. Due to a mixture of foreseen and unforeseen issues, the good start to the season has unraveled.
On the positive side for the Quakes, it’s still early in the season, and plenty can change. Their schedule doesn’t get much easier, but they can’t let that hurt them. The revolution that this club has undergone has been excellent, so it shouldn’t be all doom and gloom.
Player and Manager Ratings
GK– Daniel- 7
DF– Marie- 4
DF– Beason- 7
DF– Rodrigues- 7
DF– Trauco- 6
MD– Gruezo- 7
MD– Yueill- 6
MD– Monteiro- 6
FW– Kikanović- 7
FW– Ebobisse- 5
FW– Espinoza- 6
Featured Image: San Jose Earthquakes