Returning to PayPal after a quick road trip, Orlando offered the Quakes a chance to continue their good form. For the majority of Saturday’s game, the Quakes played as the better team.
However, old issues crept in, and the Quakes lost a winnable game.

After getting robbed of three points midweek, all eyes turned to the game against Orlando. Another struggling team, both sides entered Saturday looking to leave with three points.

This was very much a tale of two halves for the Quakes. In the first, the team played dynamite soccer, with López constantly finding space. The second saw the team slow down as they struggled to find chances.

PHOTO: Antoine Tamagno

Even though they gave up a goal at the death, the defense kept Orlando at Bay, and Yarbrough did a great job as well. What really killed the Quakes was the lack of any clinical finishing. Espinoza and López did their jobs, but no one put the ball in the back of the net. 

To be totally fair to this team, López’s arrival changed this team and made them a good side. Old ghosts have begun to creep back in with the team running out of ideas. 

For the majority of Saturday’s game, the Quakes dominated play and threatened constantly. Nerves came back in during the second half as the team failed to score.

There’s an old adage that through certain players, you see the whole game. López is one of those players.

Every chance came through his feet and movement, whether through a tight dribble or give-and-go with Espinoza. He constantly offered to be an outlet all across the pitch, even dropping back to fill in Yueill’s role when Akapo moved more centrally. With Espinoza and Yueill specifically, he sought passing triangles to always operate in space.

This tore apart the Orlando backline and midfield, especially in the first half. Espinoza faded as the game went on, but he still demanded so much attention. Throughout the game, both wingbacks also threatened Orlando, creating chances that should have been finished

Now, in the second half, all creativity has left the team. Gruezo, who defended excellently, didn’t offer much in the attack. Yueill, who most expect to be another creative hub, struggled to be an actual threat, with Gruezo having better chances.

PHOTO: Antoine Tamagno

The attackers will be discussed later, but the midfield being so unthreatening allowed Orlando to suffocate the front three. Outside of Skahan, no midfielder presents another dimension to the attack. It continues to kill the Quakes as opposing teams can more or less ignore the two more central mids.

It’s incredibly cruel that the Quakes lost to a counter off a corner. The team deserved more for their efforts, but doubts began to appear once more. 

At the beginning of the season, the defense tanked the team, but they’ve turned things around with Wilson. Now, it’s offensive inconsistencies that haunt them. 

One moment early in the first half encapsulated all the team’s struggles. After some good play between Espinoza and López, the winger found Ebobisse with space in the box. The striker set his feet, ready to receive the pass, and whiffed the chance.

To be fair to the striker, he helped the team in the buildup and covered for Pellegrino when the winger cut in. However, his struggles in front of goal define his season thus far. 

The numbers reflect this as well, with his passing numbers impressive, but his pure scoring metrics fall well below the league average. Luchi’s hope with López’s arrival was that it would open up more of the game for Ebobisse. While it’s still early, it hasn’t come to fruition yet.

PHOTO: Antoine Tamagno

Perhaps he just needs a run where he’s fed the ball more constantly. It’s difficult to identify what went wrong for Ebobisse so far, but the team needs him at his best. Just seeing the ball hit the back of the net may unlock his goal-scoring prowess.

In terms of other options for the team, none are really attractive. Judd played well at the start of the season but profiles more as a backup. Pellegrino is more of a threat than Ebobisse but is much better when cutting in on his right foot.

In order to truly bounce back from their horror start, Ebobisse must find a way to be more clinical. His inefficiency in front of goal hurts the team, but he’s shown enough to keep the faith in him.

Saturday’s game offered the team a chance to continue their run of good form. While they still played well, they’re in no position to leave points on the table.
Austin gives the team another chance to bounce back, but time is starting to run out for a comeback.

PHOTO: San Jose Earthquakes

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