The San Jose Earthquakes don’t lose too often at home. Last season, they dropped only two games in the Bay Area; this season, they are already halfway to that total following a 2-1 loss to New York City FC. It’s still early days in the 2018 Major League Soccer season, but aspects of Saturday’s loss are worrisome.
The good news on the night came early, as Yeferson Quintana, the youngest Earthquake on the field, headed home a corner kick from a tight angle in only the third minute. It was San Jose’s first goal directly off a corner since last year at Minnesota United, when Florian Jungwirth tapped home a redirect by Chris Wondolowski in a 1-0 victory. Quintana’s goal against NYCFC, unfortunately, would not hold up as a game winner.
The flow of a game will shift, depending on which team is ahead and which is behind, and the Earthquakes early dominance, was soon balanced and then surpassed by New York’s press and possession game. From the 10th minute to the 60th minute — when Maxi Moralez scored to give the visitors a 2-1 lead — NYCFC owned the ball by a count of 2-to-1. The Quakes absorbed the pressure until they couldn’t any more.
“That’s also quite normal in a game that when you score an early goal and they put pressure, so it was absolutely not the purpose in the game plan,” Earthquakes head coach Miakel Stahre said in his post game comments. “We tried to press them high, that was really clear, but they played well also. They put us in trouble. We tried to press them high, but we couldn’t in the first half. We made small changes in the shape and talked about it at halftime, and we were much better in the second half.”
Given that both goals were conceded in the second half, it was a curious statement from Stahre. After all, the Quakes defense was actually more effective prior to the halftime whistle. Sure, New York didn’t score again after taking the lead, as they took their turn to repel San Jose’s attack. NYCFC successfully held on for the victory despite the Earthquakes offensive onslaught.
The Quakes now have three points from three games, and next they travel to Philadelphia to face the Union on Saturday. San Jose has the worst road record in all of MLS over the past two-plus seasons — a mark of distinction they will want to reverse this year — and needs to show it can win away from Avaya Stadium. Philly is coming off a 3-0 loss at Colorado and is itself developing a new defensive identity. It is a game from which the Earthquakes must get a result.
Media round-up for Quakes 2-1 loss to NYCFC
The Earthquakes featured the same starting eleven for the third consecutive game, but the team’s organization, despite having a month to develop, is still a work in progress. Sure, New York City goalkeeper Sean Johnson had a man-of-the-match performance between the sticks, but the way San Jose conceded the two goals was worrisome. Check out the game report from Pro Soccer USA here. (LINK)
Always a good discussion starter are player ratings, and Quakes Epicenter delivers. Not surprisingly, the Earthquakes numbers are all clustered in the “meh” range — it was that kind of result against New York City. The best player on the field Saturday night, according to the ratings, was also the team’s best all-around player in March — Magnus Eriksson. (LINK)
As mentioned before, the Earthquakes do not lose too often at home, and they rarely fall to defeat when entering halftime with a lead, as mentioned in the San Jose Mercury News match recap. Is it fair to call the 2-1 result against NYCFC a collapse? Given that the visitors weren’t playing at full strength, it was certainly a disappointment. (LINK)
So what can be learned from the loss? The Earthquakes defense is still gelling, with centerbacks Quintana and Harold Cummings looking much better, but the midfield organization needs some work. Can the Quakes bounce back at Philly? Shack off the NYCFC result, and shore up some defensive issues, and the outlook is pretty good. (LINK)