A busy early-season week continues for the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday when they head to Texas to take on FC Dallas. Matias Almeyda and the Quakes look to keep their resurgence going and show the league that is not just a different system that is leading to their current success. The Quakes are 2-1-1 in their last four matches and almost got three points in Seattle on Wednesday until the Sounders toughed out a comeback to leave both teams with one point to end the night. A win in Dallas against a stronger team would give the Quakes their first road win of the season and would surely make a couple MLS pundits heads explode trying to make sense of how the Quakes are having this success.
Cristian Espinoza continues to impress and has been instrumental in the Quakes success the 24-year-old Argentinian has two goals to go along with two assists and is fifth in the league in key passes per game at 2.6. MLS has never been a league known for staunch defenders and a lot of the times Espinoza is just better than the player tasked to defend him. It’s not a matter of size or skill or positioning, a lot of the times Espinoza is just better at soccer, and your only chance to stop him is to hope he makes a mistake.
Jackson Yueill is another of the young Quakes players who is having a resurgence under Almeyda and is crucial that he maintain that form if this team is going to continue to improve. Yueill had shown glimpses of what he was capable of that last couple of seasons, but the tactics employed by past managers never allowed him to blossom. Now that Almeyda has introduced his tactics and added a little fun to the Quakes routine Yueill is showing that he can be a solid Central Midfielder for years to come. Another player who has seen his play rejuvenated is Texas native Shea Salinas who leads the team with four goals so far this season and is playing the best soccer of his career. Those four goals come after playing only 445 minutes this season, the only other time in his career he got close to that was in 2015 when he scored three goals in 2,622 minutes!
Whether Almeyda’s unique man-marking system is confusing teams and allowing them chances that may not be there later on or whether he is actually putting his players in better positions to let their talent to show is a question for other people to try to answer. At this point I really don’t care, after so many seasons of dull soccer, it is refreshing to see this team have success. Not only are they having success but for the first time in a long time the players are actually out there having fun and if you don’t believe that go check out Tommy Thompsons Instagram feed to see Almeyda operating the grill at recent team BBQ.
Dallas is a good team, but the Quakes have had their number the last couple of seasons. The last time the Quakes lost to Dallas was July 8, 2016, and half of all the Quakes wins last season came against them as well. The Quakes will have Anibal Godoy back who served a one-match suspension after getting his fifth yellow card of the season against Sporting KC. They will need that depth as this will be their third match in seven days including two on the road.