After starting the 2019 season with two home matches the San Jose Earthquakes head across the country this week for an intriguing matchup with New York Red Bulls. This match will be Matias Almeyda’s first trip to Red Bull Arena since he knocked them out of the CONCACAF Champions League last year when he was in charge of Chivas. More than that this match is another opportunity to show Quakes fans that his new system can have success in this league.
The frustration is understandable coming from such a long-suffering fanbase but one only needs to look over at Atlanta and the early struggles they have had with new manager Frank de Boer to see how much of a shock installing a new system creates. For his part, Almeyda seems confident that the early results haven’t affected his squad’s mentality and feels betters times are coming stating, “The mental health in soccer and in life is fundamental, and we are giving them all the tools to be relaxed, that they don’t get desperate, have patience. The positive results will come soon, and we hope they come as soon as possible.”
Earthquakes fans also hope they come as soon as possible and while flying across the country to take on a better opponent might be cause for worry Almeyda has experience in dealing with the Red Bulls style. Unlike San Jose or Atlanta when Chris Armas took over for Jesse Marsch last season, there was no huge shift in strategy. The high-pressure conter-attacking method remained although some plays happen on different parts of the pitch compared to Marsch.
The Red Bulls come in only having played one MLS match so far, but their participation in the CONCACAF Champions League means they have had some time to gel in high-intensity matches. They also traveled 2,000 miles this week on their way back from Torreon after their elimination on Tuesday, so the Quakes have a chance to take advantage of a team that has played a lot of soccer in a short amount of time.
Quakes fans, like myself, who have been wondering about Wondo starting over Danny Hoesen may have to wait another week before Almeyda makes any drastic changes. When asked about the possibility of any changes to the starting 11 Almeyda said, “We are looking. We are analyzing. We’ve done a few practices using some possible changes, but I’ll have my final decisions made this Friday before the match.”
Even with the familiarity of Almeyda with their style and the travel this week the Quakes are going to be damn near perfect if they want to leave with any points. I don’t think they can pull it off, but this clash of styles is going to lead to a very entertaining match.