The San Jose Earthquakes entered Saturday’s match at Red Bull Arena looking for their first points of the young 2019 MLS season; they left with no points and more questions about their future. To paraphrase Dickens, this match was a tale of two halves. In the first, the Earthquakes showed the potential of the Matias Almeyda system with Cristian Espinoza brutalizing Kyle Duncan all half leading to a 1-0 advantage at the break. The last 45 minutes was one of the best teams in the league toying with a helpless victim, much like Scar messes with the mouse at the beginning of The Lion King. Life’s not fair, is it?
For 45 minutes Quakes, fans were able to see what this team can potentially be under the leadership of Almeyda. The lineup was similar to the first two games of the season except for Nick Lima starting at LB for Marcos Lopez and Tommy Thompson taking over the RB duties. Five minutes into the match it seemed like the Quakes had finally found their rhythm when Magnus Eriksson let Cristian Espinoza use his speed to catch up to a nicely positioned pass and put one passed Luis Robles to give the visitors an unexpected lead. The Quakes knew a one-goal lead would not be enough, so they kept up the pressure with Vako coming close to increasing the lead in the 28th and 37th minute but failing to hit his mark both times. Although the Quakes were only up 1-0 at the half, it was easily one of the more shocking scorelines of the young season.
Whatever Chris Armas told his squad at haltime it was what they needed to hear as the Red Bulls came out in the second half looking like a team that was last years Supporters’ Shield winner. Six minutes into the second half Alex Muyl, who came on in the 35th minute for an injured Florian Valot, leveled the score with an open shot in the six-yard box after Daniel Vega made a diving save that took him out of position. Red Bulls kept getting the better scoring chances until 20 minutes later when Muyl found the back of the net again putting the Quakes in a familiar place. The final 20 minutes of the game was a clinic put on by Red Bulls letting the league know that they intend to be MLS Champions sometime soon. The Quakes looked like a team that only won four games last season.
For all the chaos of the second half the first half of the match showed that the Quakes are close to finding themselves in the Almeyda system. I still can’t make any sense of not starting Danny Hoesen over Chris Wondolowski but I am a writer, not a manager. The Quakes have a break from MLS action next week but will host Liga MX team Monterrey in a friendly at Avaya on March 23. They return to MLS play on March 30 when they face LAFC at Avaya Stadium.