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Monday Kickback: MLS Opening Weekend

The long awaited Matias Almeyda era begins in San Jose

MLS: Montreal Impact at San Jose Earthquakes Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Quakes lose season opener at home

The much-anticipated start to the Matias Almeyda era began on Saturday with a 2-1 loss at home, not exactly a dream start but 90 minutes isn’t much time to accurately judge a squad. Chris Wondolowski got the start up top instead of Danny Hoesen which still doesn’t make sense to me. Wondo is a club legend, but Hoesen gives you the best chance to net multiple goals in a game.

Magnus Eriksson netted the San Jose Earthquakes first goal of the season with his devastating left foot. If he can manage to keep that shot on target the rest of the season Quakes, fans can get used to strikes like the one on Saturday.

The result may not have been what the supporters were hoping for, but there were glimpses of what this team can be once all the pieces start coming together.

The Quakes completed 88% of their 569 passes, and while they were trailing for the whole game, the squad seemed more composed and less desperate than previous seasons. “Goonie Time” may be permanently over, and that is a good thing for the organization. Judson was all over the pitch causing chaos for the Montreal offense, and the other off-season additions look like they will be meaningful contributors this season. The Quakes have another chance to show the local crowd that this season will be better when they take on Minnesota United FC at Avaya this Saturday.

Wondo Watch

The other topic that dominated the Earthquakes offseason was how long would it take for Chris Wondolowski to catch up to Landon Donovan for the all-time goal scoring record. Wondo sits at 144 goals and needs one more to claim yet another MLS scoring record. As I stated above, he got the start over Hoesen on Saturday. Whether that is to try to give him a chance to break the record and get rid of the distraction or Almeyda thinks the team has a better chance at winning with Hoesen on the bench I don’t know.

I hope Wondo can break the record in San Jose in front of the home crowd. No other fan base has been beaten up so much yet stayed so devoted to their beloved team, being able to celebrate that record at home will help salve some of the wounds gathered over the last several seasons.

Tommy Thompson as a Right Back?

One of the more surprising moves of the young Almeyda era is having Tommy Thompson serving as a backup to Nick Lima. Thompson has spent most of his Earthquakes career in a more offensive role, and Lima looks set to have a breakout year after a good showing earlier this year at the US Men’s National Team camp so what is Almeyda thinking?

If you go through El Pelado’s history, you can find some precedent for this move. Back in 2015, a struggling winger was playing for Chivas de Guadalajara by the name of Jesus “El Chapo” Sanchez, and like Thompson, his career was not taking off as high as it could be. Enter Almeyda and all of a sudden El Chapo is asked to play right back, a position he was not familiar with and had never played. Putting his trust in his new manager, Sanchez learned how to man mark and quickly turned his career around in his new position.

Having a two-person battle for that right back position between two of the younger more talented players can be a double-edged sword, but Almeyda has proven he can take raw talent and create a well-rounded soccer player out of it.