The San Jose Earthquakes were beaten by a shockingly late, freak goal in their game against Dallas FC yesterday. It was a goal that must have had the soccer gods rolling on the floor laughing, kicking their sandaled feet in the air, getting beer and sawdust all over their robes. If the ball, from a wildly inaccurate shot by Moises Hernandez, had hit Blas Perez in the head even slightly harder before ricocheting into the net, they would have been waking him up in the locker room to tell him he’d scored. It was generally agreed, even by Quakes keeper David Bingham himself, that the goal was the result of his botched attempt at a punched clearance.
San Jose showed great effort and a lot more forward movement than fans have been used to seeing the last couple of seasons. But a lot of the time the team still resembled a bunch of dogs let off the leash down the park after a long winter of being snowed in; a heck of a lot of energy but not much in the way of direction. As you would expect, new head coach Dominic Kinnear and his grooming staff have a lot of work ahead of them if they are to mold this lot into a unified pack.
From the fans point of view it was yet another disappointing failure to win when it matters. Just what Dallas FC’s excuse was for their largely undisciplined display isn’t clear. Dallas has had much the same group of players, and presumably the same voodoo witch doctor, for the last couple of years.
San Jose would have profited by playing more up the left flank where former Quakes midfielder Atiba Harris was clearly struggling as a Dallas full back. Harris’s vulnerability was compounded by the fact that from the 50th minute he was carrying a yellow card but the Quakes largely failed to exploit this weakness.
Chris Wondolowski and Matias Perez Garcia are clearly in the process of developing what could become a deadly passing game. As the understanding between them grows, involving less touches on the ball, the more likely their moves will end up with the ball in the net.
Quakes new number one keeper David Bingham clearly has a ways to go and getting basic communication with his defenders sorted out on the training ground and not in mid-game would lead to fewer heart-in-the-mouth moments for San Jose’s fans. Bingham has been training with the club long enough, waiting patiently in the shadow of Jon Busch for his chance, for these basics to be handled and handled quickly. San Jose can’t afford to go into this season as a team known to be weak between the posts.
Paulo Renato proved useful beyond his goal line clearance, reading the game well to show up where and when needed more often than not. But the new key find for San Jose is surely Sanna Nyassi who was up and down the right flank like a speed demon, ranging at will from defense, through midfield, to get behind the Dallas back line to deliver the ball.
The game was messy – it sure wasn’t Messi – it was scrappy, at times physical, the pace was such that often play was all over the place. In short, it was MLS 2015 and it was great to have it back!
Of the game Earthquakes head coach Dominic Kinnear said:
"Sometimes it's a game of mistakes. They made a couple. We made a couple. I thought the guys put in a great night's work, created some good chances. So did they. It's a little bit unfair at the end, but that's the way the game went."