Going into Saturday, the Quakes had one goal, win and they’re in. Unsurprisingly, the Quakes didn’t win, but still made the playoffs. Sporting KC stands in their way between an early exit and a deeper playoff run.

Saturday was the quintessential Quakes’ game of this season. An exciting opening to the game where the team looked threatening only for them to stumble into a tie.

Luchi opted to go with the 4-4-2 that he trotted out last week on Saturday. Like the previous, it was successful in the opening third. However, they gave up control of the game and settled for a point when a win could have really helped.

Photo: San Jose Earthquakes

Under Almeyda, the Quakes reached the playoffs once and faced Sporting KC in a classic. Now, they face KC once more with the hopes of pushing past them. This is a somewhat different Sporting side, but they may be more dangerous.

A season that started so positively culminated in an anticlimactic decision day. Anything can be forgiven if they reach the next round, but it’ll be quite the challenge.

For fans who’ve watched this team since the restart, decision day was nothing new. Luchi’s side started well, but gave up in the second half.

It’s definitely interesting to watch Luchi go to the 4-4-2. The formation allows for the team to really go all out attack. Additionally, by partnering Ebobisse and Hoppe, the front line has so many ways  to kill opponents.

Rather than go with Gruezo alongside Yueill in the middle, Luchi went with Tsakiris to partner Yueill. Again, this meant to push the Quakes further up the field and pin Austin back. However, this duo just doesn’t provide the Quakes more solidity in the midfield and Gruezo is desperately needed.

Once the Quakes scored, the team collectively turned their brains off. Austin got an equalizer and nothing else happened in the second half. 

Photo: San Jose Earthquakes

No player really stood out, pretty much everyone was either meh or bad. Most of the font line was fine, but Cowell struggled in this formation. Both fullbacks were fine, but faded as the game dragged on.

Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of the game was the way Luchi threw in the towel in the second half. Yes, other results allowed the Quakes to sneak in  the playoffs, but a win would have allowed them to bypass the play-in. What message does this send to fans besides a play-in appearance is just ok?

So much of this season’s slide into mediocrity can be summed up by Saturday’s game. A great start followed by some of the most boring soccer as the team limps into a draw.

Just over a month ago, Sporting KC took the Quakes apart. Since then, KC has won five of their final eight games. 

Unlike the Quakes, KC started the season terribly. Desperately missing Alan Pulido’s form, Sporting was dull in the attack and leaky in the back. Peter Vermes guided his side to one of the better attacking sides in the west.

Sporting’s attack depends on the relationship between Pulido and Russell with Sallói to clean up after them. The midfield is much more balanced than the Quakes which will look to subdue the threat of Espinoza. Fortunately for the Quakes, the backline is one of the weaker that  they’ve faced as of late.

Like many of the playoff sides, Sporting can kill you in so many different ways. On the other hand, the Quakes haven’t shown the versatility needed to counter them.

Photo: Sporting Kansas City

Playing a 4-4-2 will give too much ground in the  middle of the pitch, so reverting back  to a 4-3-3 may be necessary. Using Gruezo in a roaming role will give the team the defensive solidity they need against KC. In terms of the backline, Beason should get the start as his performances alongside Rodrigues have been better than Mensah.

Luchi’s biggest decision will deal with how to line up his attack. Cowell has been a regular starter, but Hoppe has been in much better form and deserves to start. The front three of  Ebobisse, Espinoza  and Hoppe will be the Quakes’ best chance at pulling apart Sporting.

KC are a much different beast than the teams the Quakes have faced recently. They’re a hungry side that have gotten better as the season has gone on.

Decision day could have been a great way for Luchi’s side to secure a playoff home game at  PayPal for the first time in the club’s history. Instead, they’re unlikely to see a home game given the beast of a team they’ll have to slay. This season could be redeemed with a win on Wednesday, but  it’ll require  the team to play their best game yet.


Featured Image: Bay Area News Group

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