Last season, the San Jose Earthquakes made six trips to the Eastern time zone. In those visits, they tied one game and lost the other five. In no small part, the far-flung travels of the Quakes contributed to their 3-12-2 overall record away from the Bay Area. Not good.
But it’s a new season, and San Jose has a new man in charge, head coach Mikael Stahre. The Swede has said from the beginning of preseason that he expected the team would improve on last season’s road record, and last week had identified the game against the Philadelphia Union as a chance for the Earthquakes to earn their first away win of the season.
They came very close, holding one for a 1-1 draw after scoring first, but conceding an equalizer to the hosts.
“We came here for three points. From that perspective, I am disappointed,” Stahre said in his post game comments, adding, “The players of course are disappointed, but we are here to try and win the game. Still, we were not defeated and I think that is most important and to handle the late pressure from Philadelphia. In general, decent performance but I am very pleased with a point.”
The tie was hard fought and well earned, and it helped erase some of the unpleasant memories of the 2-1 loss to New York City FC experienced the weekend before at Avaya Stadium. Marquee offseason signing Magnus Eriksson recorded his first goal for the Quakes, and new defender Joel Qwiberg made his MLS debut in Philly. For Eriksson, the 1-1 draw was a just reward for efforts expended in the team’s cross-country travels.
“It was important,” Eriksson said. “We had two tough games recently where we did not get any points, so we wanted to win this game badly. They played well in the second half and we were a bit too low. Of course, it was a tough game especially in the second half.”
The defense was tested throughout the game, with goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell making a pair of spectacular saves in the first half to preserve the team’s 1-0 lead. But the Union offense never gave in, and it’s relentless attack on the San Jose back line finally paid dividends when Alejandro Bedoya knotted the score in the 64th minute.
“Yeah, a point on the road is always good,” Tarbell said. “We wished we played a little bit better. We kind of got away from our game plan and didn’t have much control of the game so we’ll go back and work hard to try to make that better.”
After allowing seven goals in their first three games of the season, the Earthquakes defense did exceptionally well to limit Philly to one goal. Cohesiveness along the back four has improved steadily over the first month of the campaign, especially as new players acclimate to the demands of facing MLS opponents.
“Yeah, we’re doing well,” Tarbell said. “We’re working hard every week. The whole team is trying their best to mesh with each other and it’s a great group of guys. I know the back six of us are working really hard to get to know each other as well as we can.”
The results was marred by the ejection of defender Harold Cummings for violent conduct on a Philadelphia Union defender in the waning moments of the match. It was on a Quakes free-kick, well defended by the hosts, when the Panamanian defender swung out at Auston Trusty. The play was reviewed after the final whistle by the video assistant referee, and a red card was announced.
Cummings will now miss the Earthquakes next game, this Saturday against the Houston Dynamo in San Jose, and Stahre will need to make some adjustments to his starting lineup. The Quakes currently have four points from four games, and they’ll be aiming to push that number higher this weekend.
Philadelphia Union 1-1 San Jose Earthquakes
April 7, 2018 — Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, Pa.
Scoring Summary: SJ — Magnus Eriksson (Danny Hoesen, Anibal Godoy) 37; PHI — Alejandro Bedoya (Fafa Picault, Borek Dockal) 64.
Misconduct Summary: PHI — David Accam (caution) 23; SJ — Yeferson Quintana (caution) 56; SJ — Chris Wondolowski (caution) 82; SJ — Harold Cummings (ejection) 90+6.
Philadlphia Union: Andre Blake; Keegan Rosenberry, Austen Trusty, Matthew Real (Raymon Gaddis 71), Jack Elliott; Alejandro Bedoya, Haris Medunjanin; David Accam (Ilsinho 63), Fabrice-Jean Picault, Borek Dockal (Cory Burke 86); C.J. Sapong.
Statistics: Shots: 22; Shots on goal: 8; Saves: 4; Fouls: 12; Corner kicks: 7, Offside: 2.
San Jose Earthquakes: Andrew Tarbell; Joel Qwiberg (Shea Salinas 58), Harold Cummings, Yeferson Quintana, Nick Lima; Vako (Quincy Amarikwa 88), Anibal Godoy, Florian Jungwirth, Magnus Eriksson (Fatai Alashe 77); Chris Wondolowski, Danny Hoesen.
Statistics: Shots: 9; Shots on goal: 5; Saves: 7; Fouls: 8; Corner kicks: 3, Offside: 2.