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Monday Kickback: Week 8

MLS: Sporting Kansas City at San Jose Earthquakes Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Week eight of the MLS season wrapped up yesterday, and it looks like the San Jose Earthquakes are finally settling into Matias Almeyda’s system with another convincing home victory. Let’s take a look at what happened last week and what is coming up for the Quakes.

Earthquakes Rolling at Home

The question on a lot of peoples minds after the Quakes dominating 3-0 win against Portland Timbers on April 6 was “Are the Quakes figuring out Almeyda’s system or is Portland just that bad?” Well after a couple more matches the answer seems to be a little of column A, and a little of column B. Portland has only one win all season, which they barely got last Saturday, while the Quakes lost a close one in Houston then followed it up with Saturday’s statement match.

Danny Hoesen scored two goals to bring his total to three in the last three matches, and Shea Salinas scored a beauty of a goal to continue his resurgence. On the defensive side, the Quakes kept a powerful Sporting Kansas City group off the scoresheet for most of the match to earn their second victory in the last three matches. Cristian Espinoza had another solid match, and he continues to outperform the players sent to defend against him and although he had a quiet match offensively his presence on the pitch is enough to distract defenders and allow players like Hosen to get better chances.

Quick Turnaround

The early season tests continue for the Quakes as last Saturday’s match is one of three the Quakes have in the next seven days. Marcos Lopez will be back from his suspension for his red card against Houston, but the Quakes will be missing Anibal Godoy who will have to sit out the match against Seattle after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season against Sporting KC. That is not good news for a team that is barely finding its rhythm that is going up against a team that has been perfect at home so far this season. Seattle did just go up against the freight train that is LAFC and got run over as most teams have this season which showed there might be some cracks forming in the Sounders hull.

History shows that this series is usually dominated by one team or the other for several seasons. In fact, the Quakes have not beaten the Sounders in a MLS match in over three seasons a record I’m sure they would love to end as soon as possible. Away games are notoriously difficult to win in MLS but going back to the history books you can see there is hope for San Jose. The Quakes have five or more away victories against seven MLS teams, and only one of those teams did not play in the inaugural season in 1996. That team is, of course, the Seattle Sounders.

Hoesen Starting to Heat Up

After a slow start to the season caused mostly by a visa issue, Danny Hoesen is finally seeing regular minutes and the dividends are paying off for the Quakes. The 28-year-old had a breakout season last year leading the Quakes in goals with 12 in addition to four assists and is looking to add to that under new manager Matias Almeyda. Last Saturday he scored twice in the first 12 minutes to lead the Quakes offense and earned MLS Team of the Week honors for his effort. If Hoesen and Espinoza can continue to get better, they can become a nightmare for opposing defenses, and with a -7 goals differential, the Quakes are going to need all the offense they can find if they want to compete week-after-week.

Wondo Watch

Chris Wondolowski still sits at 144 goals one behind Landon Donovan for most all-time MLS goals. As the team is starting to come together under Almeyda Wondo’s role is becoming smaller and smaller. I still have no doubt that Wondo will eventually break the record this year, but at the moment that is taking a backseat to the learning their new more aggressive system. Wondo will have two more chances this week when the Quakes take on Seattle Sounders on Wednesday and then travel back to Texas to take on another MLS original in FC Dallas.