The San Jose Earthquakes completed their 10-day preseason stay in the Arizona desert today with a 1-1 draw against fellow Western Conference foes Real Salt Lake. Earlier on the trip, the Quakes played the Portland Timbers to a scoreless draw.
RSL opened the scoring in the second half after a turnover at midfield by draft pick Paul Marie allowed them to quickly transition to the counterattack. Overloading the San Jose defenders on the break allowed Alfredo Ortuna, trailing the play, time and space at the top of the area to slot home past goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell.
The Quakes equalized five minutes later as their possession play gave them the break they needed. MLS newcomer Joel Qwiberg completed an overlapping run on the left wing and sent a cross to the far post, where Tommy Thompson laid the ball back for a leaping Quincy Amarikwa to glance in a header.
The match was played in two 45-minute halves, unlike last week’s three period contest against the Timbers, and head coach Mikael Stahre used two almost completely different line-ups in each session. Tarbell, the team’s number one goalkeeper to finish the 2017 season, played the entire 90 minutes between the posts.
The first half saw a top-choice starting eleven, with the only modification the inclusion of Jackson Yueill for Florian Jungwirth in midfield. Jungwirth, the team’s defensive MVP last season, returned to Germany earlier this week to complete his Visa status and is expected back in San Jose later this week.
The starting center back duo of Harold Cummings and Yeferson Quintana continued to show their development, as both hulking defenders kept the middle of the park free of RSL attacks. Each made the occasional mistake in possession, but together they were solid in their positioning. Cummings is coming off a year away from the game due to an ankle injury, and he showed a bit of rust. Quintana’s height came in handy multiple times as the Uruguayan defender was able to rise to clear the ball with head on multiple occasions.
The right side of the formation featured Magnus Eriksson and Nick Lima, with the Swede DP and aspiring U.S. men’s national team Homegrown displaying a promising chemistry. Eriksson, a former youth hockey player, showed he wasn’t afraid to get physical on both sides of the center line, equally comfortable coming back to defend RSL attackers off the ball as he was to move forward and pressure Salt Lake defender Danilo Acosta (see video below). Lima, who, along with Acosta, recently finished up a grueling January USMNT camp, looked in mid-season form at right back, and his runs in conjunction with Eriksson gave the Quakes their best offensive opportunities of the half.
The forward pairing of Danny Hoesen and Chris Wondolowski had their moments, as both players tried to keep the RSL defense from shortening the field. Hoesen covered a lot of ground as the more top forward, but he is not a true target forward, and possession did not favor the Quakes when he was asked to perform that role. Wondolowski looked energized, flashing some speculative one-touch passes that did not come to fruition. Hoesen had the best shot on goal for San Jose in the first half, but his effort from a Wondolowski cross went right into the gloves of ageless goalkeeper Nick Rimando.
Following intermission, San Jose started its second unit, with Tarbell remaining in goal. Quincy Amarikwa, who is entering his 10th MLS season, was the bright spot in the half, and not just for scoring a goal. The physical forward set the tone for the Quakes from the opening whistle, generally harassing the RSL back line and playing the role of target forward at a high level. Following an uneven 2017, Amarikwa sits behind Hoesen and Wondolowski on the forward depth chart, but he showed so far this preseason that he can be counted on to give his best in spot duty in 2018.
Earthquakes first round MLS SuperDraft pick Paul Marie continued his rocky preseason with another gaffe. Last week against Portland, it was a rash red card challenge that saw him ejected in the first few minutes of the game. Today against Real Salt Lake, Marie turned over the ball while under pressure in the moments immediately prior to their 54th minute goal. While maneuvering with the ball at the center line, Marie took a tough challenge to the ankles that resulted in him being dumped to the turf. Referee Baldomero Toledo waved off the tackle and RSL counterattacked on the short-handed Quakes defense. It was a tough moment for Marie, but one that he will need to learn from if he is going to earn a rookie contract.
Amarikwa’s equalizer in the 60th minute featured two players in the build-up that had very solid performances for San Jose. Joel Qwiberg, who is battling with veteran Shea Salinas to be the Quakes starting left back this season, looked more at ease in this game as compared to against the Timbers last Wednesday. The 25-year-old Colombian born defender, timed his overlapping run perfectly and whipped in a potent cross to the far post from deep in the corner. Tommy Thompson, who was active for the entirety of his 45 minute shift, used his head to lay the ball back to the center of the goal area for Amarikwa to glance home (see video below). Thompson, entering his fifth MLS season, looks a bit more trim this year as compared to last, and his speed on and off the ball was evident against RSL.
The Earthquakes will fly back to San Jose on Wednesday to continue their preseason training. This Saturday, the team takes on its USL affiliate club Reno 1868 FC in a friendly match at Avaya Stadium. Plenty of tickets remain for the 2:00 p.m. game. The Quakes MLS regular season opener will be three weeks after that, on March 3, against Minnesota United.
60': GOOOOOOOAL SAN JOSE!— San Jose Earthquakes (@SJEarthquakes) February 7, 2018
Qwiberg's cross find Tommy Thompson at the back post. His header across the box is redirected by Amarikwa and into the side-netting. 1-1 pic.twitter.com/PZhpd31Uoq
First half line-ups
San Jose Earthquakes: Andrew Tarbell; Shea Salinas, Yeferson Quintana, Harold Cummings, Nick Lima; Vako, Anibal Godoy, Jackson Yueill, Magnus Eriksson; Chris Wondolowski, Danny Hoesen.
Real Salt Lake: Nick Rimando; Danilo Acosta, Marcelo Silva, Justen Glad, Aaron Herrera; Kyle Beckerman, Luke Mulholland, Albert Rusnak; Brooks Lennon, Sebastian Saucedo, Luis Silva.
Second half line-ups
San Jose Earthquakes: Andrew Tarbell; Joel Qwiberg, Francois Affolter, Jimmy Ockford, Paul Marie; Jahmir Hyka, Luis Felipe, Fatai Alashe, Tommy Thompson; Quincy Amarikwa, Mohamed Thiaw (Chris Wehan 72).
Real Salt Lake: Connor Sparrow; Adam Henley, Shawn Barry, David Horst, Demar Phillips; Nick Besler, Sunny; Corey Baird, Jose Hernandez, Ricky Lopez-Espin; Alfredo Ortuno.