Memory can be a tricky thing. The fans trust the players are going to remember the things that work and repeat them, likewise remembering the blunders and eradicating them from their play. The San Jose Earthquakes played a game of two very different halves on Saturday against the New England Revolution that sometimes suggested they might have forgotten which was which.
But memory can be a slippery customer for fans as well. The way San Jose played in the first half must surely have dredged up memories of the 2014 season, a collective groan going through the Quakes faithful, an unwanted chorus of "Oh %&*#, here we go again."
Commentators and pundits often revel in stating the obvious and love to draw comparisons between things like sunny CA and snowy MA as game influencing factors. Former San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch once put it quite bluntly at a press conference when he said that, all the players do is concentrate on the game they’re playing. Afterwards they train for the next game and all that other stuff is just stuff guys in the media make up in order to have something to talk about. Well, it keeps us off the streets, Jon!
So, before we go any further let’s dispense with the weather factor. Okay, it was snowing and windy, but speaking after the game Quakes striker Chris Wondolowski, when asked if conditions affected the game, said:
"No. The field actually played pretty well. It was a little cold, but it was fine. Our mentality was off."
Towards the end of the game memory slipped all the way back to 2012 when, after Wondo had pulled a goal back from the penalty spot, thoughts turned to finding one of those last gasp tying or winning goals. But that was then and this is now, and it was not to be, although it did take two excellent late saves by Revolution goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth to stop the "Goonie Time" memory becoming a reality.
First Matias Perez Garcia struck a dipping corner kick and San Jose defender Victor Bernardez glancing header was goal bound until Shuttleworth tipped it over the bar. Later, Wondolowski blasted a wicked, left-footed shot from outside the box, but again Shuttleworth got a hand on it. The Quakes final opportunity came in the waning moments when Pierazzi skied a short-range effort over the bar.
All in all, there was a marked improvement in every aspect of San Jose’s game in the second half. It begs the question, do the Earthquakes have something now they’ve perhaps traditionally lacked in the halftime locker room? Given the shift in attitude and effort during the second half you’d be forgiven for thinking perhaps Dominic Kinnear had borrowed Sir Alex Ferguson’s famous halftime hair dryer and used it to good effect.
But the truth is that this team is very much still a work in progress and it’s way too early to be making any predictions about this season’s particular set of memories. One thing is for sure, either way, the fans will remember.