Saturday’s draw helped solidify the Quakes’ spot in the playoffs. With only a few games to play, the Quakes need a win to really put themselves over the line. In these final matches, it will be interesting to see how the team is set up down this stretch.
Although it wasn’t the best game, getting a draw in Minnesota tremendously helped the Quakes’ chances at reaching the postseason. Luchi still has a job on his hand to push this team through these next few games.
To his credit, Luchi has been willing to tweak his formation to get the team going. After struggling with his substitution patterns all season, there is a set and steady rotation now. As Saturday’s game showed, some of these will play a role as the season ends.
Hoppe’s move to San Jose has been a godsend. His presence, as well as some moves in the midfield have helped the team be more creative. Now, all the team needs is for Ebobisse to hit some sort of form before the season ends.
If the Quakes do make the postseason, they will need to hit all cylinders in the coming games. They’ve shown a lot of growth recently, so the signs are looking good.
Being able to read a game and understanding what needs to happen is the hallmark of a competent coach. Despite having the Quakes playing well, it was clear that Luchi was struggling with reading the game. Too often he would fail to make subs at the correct time or make the wrong choices.
As the season has gone on, the lessons he’s had to learn has helped him tremendously. Saturday showed all that improvement.
It’s been interesting to watch, now, multiple Quakes coaches really place a lot of trust in Marie. The Frenchman has had a career of being a well rounded player who can do a little of everything. Perhaps this is why Luchi has gone to him as his first choice off the bench.
Especially when the game is tight, Marie is able to give that extra push on both sides of the ball. While it could be argued that Marie deserves to start over Trauco, having him come off the bench gives Luchi the flexibility to play him on either side. It gives Luchi the ability to place Marie on whichever side he can be more dangerous on.
Additionally, he has done a good job at knowing which defensive players are needed as the game winds down. He has thus far been able to call upon both Judson and Mensah to kill games off from the bench.
Perhaps his biggest challenges in the coming weeks will be figuring out the best way to use Cowell off the bench. Cowell’s best chance at impact may come down to later in game moments when the opposing defense is tired. Additionally, figuring out his best position will be vital.
Luchi has overcome his issues with his substitution patterns just when the Quakes needed it the most. The playoffs will be a whole different animal, but this has been a welcome development.
Much to the surprise of fans, the Quakes had an active summer transfer window. At the time, they were seen as moves with little potential impact, but interesting upside.
It’s difficult to state just how much of an exciting addition Hoppe has been. He has fit Luchi’s system to a T and given the offense another dimension. In fact, his performances have been so good, they’ve pushed Cowell out the starting lineup.
On Saturday, fans saw just what a force he’ll be in these coming matches. There was excellent link up play with the midfield and a want to be involved in every attack. What’s been the most fun to watch is how well he follows chances and is ready to clean any of them up.
Additionally, one of the most surprising things to come from Saturday was the midfield with Monteiro and Tsakiris. Luchi decided to go for a more creative midfield rather than a defensive one. In the first half, it did work, but the team may still need an anchor.
Tsakiris and Monteiro are similar players, but they could coexist if they have the right third partner. But is Yueill that third?
Having Gruezo at that anchor position would be the best in terms of having a balanced midfield, even if he’s not the playmaker Yueill is. That said, in a midfield with players like that, Gruezo wouldn’t need to be Pirlo, just serviceable. Yueill could still coexist in a midfield like that, but his limitations are more obvious when he’s forced to act like an anchor.
The midfield debuted on Saturday was a welcome surprise and may be the one to close the season off with. Luchi will still have to figure out how to implement it in game, but it’s an exciting prospect.
Due to a variety of reasons, the Quakes are now pretty close to the playoffs. Now, it’s time for the team to figure out how to maximize this chance. Even if it means having to change things up and leave certain players out, it’s too big an opportunity to let go by.
Featured image: San Jose Earthqukes