Last season’s edition of the LAFC Levi’s game showcased the potential of Luchi’s system. Since then, it’s been a total collapse for the Quakes.
However, Saturday’s match gave fans hope for what the team could finally look like.

Even the most optimistic fan couldn’t have expected the Quakes to dominate one of the best teams in the West. Luchi’s team exploited LAFC in every conceivable way. 

For one of the first times this season, everything clicked for the team. Espinoza found every open man while Ebobisse and Pellegrino did well to spread the backline. There were times when the Quakes’  backline almost crumbled, but Gruezo marshaled the open spaces well.

PHOTO: San Jose Earthquakes

Perhaps the most interesting part for fans, outside the win, was the appearance of López. The glimpses were small but promising. His fluid movements and quick passing opened the game up some more in the second half.

In what was the team’s best performance of the season, the Quakes once more showed the true potential of this team.

Under its flaws, an exciting attacking team exists. 

Every chance for the Quakes came through blistering counters, with players bombing down the wings. Espinoza played like a man possessed with his pass to set up Pellegrino’s goal, sure to go down as one of the best this season.

No LAFC player kept up with the pace with which the Quakes played. Every counter aimed to pull apart a slower LA backline. Ebobisse’s play was crucial as well, as he held up play to allow Espinoza and Pellegrino to operate in open space.

Additionally, Skahan continued to show why that number ten role is so crucial to Luchi’s vision. That ten exists to apply pressure to the opposing backline while acting as an outlet for Espinoza. Especially with Ebobisse playing as more of a holding striker, the ten is offered way more space to operate in.

While the wing-backs played a subtler game than usual, their presence in the attack continued to cause problems for LA. Both Espinoza and Pellegrino benefitted from their presence, even if they didn’t add much.

PHOTO: Bay Area News Group

Given that the forwards controlled the ball, the midfield couldn’t stamp their presence in the game. However, Gruezo excelled in cleaning up the LAFC attacks. Even when he made mistakes, Gruezo fought back and ensured that those mistakes wouldn’t lead to goals.

Finally, while they weren’t perfect, fans saw the potential of the Rodrigues and Wilson pairing. Rodrigues played out of his mind and is clearly the team’s second most important player. Wilson is more subtle than the Brazilian, but they match up really well.

The season is long, and things may change, but for one night, the Quakes played up to their potential. If they can keep playing like this, perhaps something can be salvaged.

At the start of the second half, Luchi gave fans the moment they had been waiting a week for. Hernán López’s debut delighted fans who had been crying for a player like him for a year now.

Replacing Skahan at the half, the Argentine seemed to have answered the prayers of fans. The midfielder fit like a glove right under the front line. It’s cool to see how good of a fit he is with Ebobisse, given the space the striker opens up.

Another interesting aspect of his game is how quick his passing is. There are elements of that pass and react style in his play. He constantly looked to relocate in open space after passing the ball.

PHOTO: San Jose Earthquakes

For those reasons, it’s easy to see how well he’s going to fit with this team. With the attention the front line demands, the Argentine will have the space needed to impact the game.

The next game will almost certainly be his first start in MLS. That might be the better chance to evaluate him fully. However, you can’t fault fans for analyzing this cameo in search of silver linings.

Unlike previous Quakes’ signings, he didn’t seem overwhelmed by the level of play. Again, it’s a little early to predict future success, but the small aspects of his game are promising. Just those little passes and play in open space promise fans of a brighter future.

Outside of the win itself, López’s debut delighted fans the most. In 45 minutes, the midfielder showed that he could be a solution for the team’s woes.

In a season that has fallen apart, this win gives fans hope for a better future. Last season’s win seemed to mark the start of a dominant Quakes era while this one is totally different.
This is the last gasp of a dying Quakes era that still has some hope.

PHOTO: Bay Area New Group

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