The San Jose Earthquakes preseason kicked off tonight with the annual scrimmage between the first team and their own academy, which drew from both the U18 and U16 teams. While the first half was at least a moderately competitive affair, the final 8-0 scoreline seemed to reflect the gap between teenagers and professionals on the pitch.
The varsity squad came out in the same sort of formation it utilized through the middle of last year with only minor personnel alterations, while the Academy side stuck with coach Paul Holocher's preferred 4-3-3. For the first 20 minutes, the kids seemed to hold their own and played generally crisp soccer throughout, but they started to fade once the adrenaline wore off.
Fortunately for them, goalkeeper Dominic Peters was a man possessed, chipping in a series of spectacular saves and confirming his status as Academy MOTM even prior to staring down club legend Chris Wondolowski at the penalty spot. The Quakes captain didn't hit the spot he was looking for, Peters dove the right way and got behind it, denying the penalty and eliciting an appreciative roar from the crowd. Despite those efforts, he couldn't keep a first-half clean sheet after failing to comprehensively deal with a corner that Clarence Goodson instead knocked home.
The second half turned into a rout quickly, with the Academy cycling in their younger players, including recent US national team U18 call-ups Arda Bulut, Andrew Paoli, and Christopher Grey. The first team debuted all four draft picks and new acquisition Chad Barrett, but it was down the right flank, which included the incumbents, that they ripped their opponents apart.
Mark Sherrod and Tommy Thompson, in particular, imposed their will on the match at each opportunity. Sherrod powered home a well-guided header to open his account, rolling home a Tommy through-ball immediately after, and capping it off with a clipped cross to Barrett, who duly tucked it home. Tommy followed it up with a slalom through the middle of the defense and cool finish. Barrett headed home his second to drive the final nail in the coffin. Sanna Nyassi looked lively down the flank, but was the victim of an Adolfo Trujillo nutmeg that provided one of the few bright spots of the second half for the academy side.
In terms of scouting, it's a more or less useless exercise, with few of the new first-teamers getting many touches on the ball and the Academy team too overmatched to let any particular individual stand out. That being said, this event was primarily a means of the team giving back to its season ticket holders, preceded by the unveiling of the club's new away kit and followed with an expansive meet-and-great with players.
The Quakes next travel to Arizona for a series of club friendlies, and return to Avaya February 27 for a much-anticipated matchup with the New York Cosmos.
First half lineup (4-4-2 Diamond): Meredith; Wynne, Bernardez, Goodson, Francis; Godoy, Cato, Salinas, Pérez-García; Wondolowski, Amarikwa
Second half lineup (3-5-2): Tarbell; Koval, Silva, Colvey; Ty Thompson, Nyassi, Tommy Thompson, Barrett, Hodan; Sherrod, Jahn