After an exciting hiatus, MLS returned this weekend. With playoffs inching closer and closer, the most exciting stretch of the regular season.
This weekend, the Quakes took on a good Vancouver side in a crucial match.
Saturday’s game saw two teams desperate to confirm their spot in the playoffs match up against each other. Despite being overrun for most of the game, the Quakes stole three points in Canada.
This game was a defensive masterclass by the Quakes. The Rodrigues-Beason backline looked promising, and Daniel was in golden glove form. In the buildup to the Quakes’ winner, the potential of the attack was in full force.
To be fair to Luchi and the team, there were a few true negatives to take from this Canadian visit. A few players did struggle, with Baldisimo being overmatched most of the game. While it was nice to see the Quakes defend so well, it’s a shame that they didn’t attack as well in the second half.
Vancouver was always going to be a tough matchup that had so much on the line.
Fortunately for Quakes fans, they’ve started this playoff push well.
Previous seasons have seen the Quakes have had one of the worst defenses in MLS, but Saturday showed just how much they’ve improved. Additionally, the mouthwatering play that led to the goal shows just how good the attack can be.
Rodrigues is becoming one of the best defenders in MLS, and he will be key down this stretch. His ability to just snuff out any sort of threat while organizing his defense shows are all the hallmarks of a top-class defender. Also, Beason may be the best partner for Rodrigues, as he’s just as good a tackler even if he isn’t as good of a passer as Rodrigues.
Outside of Espinoza, Daniel deserves to be the Quakes’ MVP this season. From kickoff, the Brazilian was quick to every shot by the Whitecaps. Even when the backline faltered, there was never a moment where it felt like Daniel couldn’t make a defining save.
When the Quakes hit the Whitecaps on the counter after a corner, the attack was in full force. Monteiro dashes forward, spreading apart the backline to open up lanes for his fellow forwards. That space gave Cowell, Ebobisse, and Espinoza the room to punish the Whitecaps.
Just the fluidity of the attack is enough to make the most cautiously optimistic fan dream about how it would look unlocked. Playing Monteiro further up the pitch has to be the way to unlock the attack, as he is so good at interchanging with his fellow attackers. Even if Cowell does leave, this attack can still be lethal.
Luchi had a great game on the sidelines, as his game plan clearly worked while his in-game tweaks helped the tired legs. For fans, it was great to see Luchi introduce Tsakiris and new signing Akinola toward the end of the game.
Vancouver is a good team with uber-talented pieces, but the Quakes did well to handle them.
It was a staple game of the new-look team.
Picking negatives is really nitpicky and seems somewhat unfair. While a win is a win, it would have been nice to see the team attack more in the second half.
Baldisimo started the game struggling to cope with the speed of Vancouver but slowly grew into the game. He’s not a bad player, but he’s clearly not an everyday starter for this Quakes side. Additionally, and somewhat concerningly, Cowell did slow down as the game wore on and failed to see out another game.
Ebobisse really needs a goal soon, as his form will be key for the playoff push. His presence did free up Espinoza for the goal, but that was his performance, just a presence. Perhaps playing Monteiro further up will unlock him, but he needs a goal soon. As mentioned, the defense was the star of the show, but it would have been nice to see the team attack more. It was clear that Luchi’s plan was to soak up the pressure and hit the Whitecaps on the counter. While it worked in one special moment, it didn’t work for the rest of the game.
Especially as the game dragged on, the Quakes were just desperately clinging onto their lead. Again, it was great to see them defend the way they did, but it wasn’t a comfortable lead.
The Quakes played an overall good game, even if there were certain aspects of the team that could have gone better. Luchi did set up the team well, but the way the team stopped attacking was disappointing to see.
In a crucial matchup, the Quakes showed up and left Canada with a desperately needed three points. As it has been most of the season, the defense was the best part of the team, with Daniel showing why he is the best keeper in MLS. Next week will bring another tough game, but it seems like this Quakes team is up for the challenge.
Player and Manager Ratings
- GK // Daniel- 9
- DF // Akapo- 7
- DF // Beason- 7
- DF // Rodrigues- 8
- DF // Trauco- 6
- MD // Gruezo- 8
- MD // Baldisimo- 6
- MD // Monteiro- 6
- FW // Cowell- 6
- FW // Ebobisse- 6
- FW // Espinoza- 8
- Mensah // N/A
- Marie // 6
- Tsakiris // N/A
- Akinola // N/A
- Luchi // 7
Photo: The Canadian Press