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Monday Kickback: Week 21

Another week and another record broken by the San Jose Earthquakes. No biggie.

MLS: San Jose Earthquakes at Vancouver Whitecaps FC Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

The San Jose Earthquakes were able to disarm the trap in Vancouver easily and now are easily one of the hottest teams in MLS. The road for the next month is smoother but can the Quakes keep up the pressure on the rest of the Western Conference? Short answer: probably.

Three Points in Vancouver

The dreaded trap game I was concerned about was yet another San Jose Earthquakes suffocating performance. The Quakes offense was once again able to bang out 32 shots bringing their total in the last two matches to 64 shots, an MLS record. It was also their second victory in-a-row on the road by a score of 3-1, and there are more records if you just scratch under the surface but it all of it leads to one conclusion. The Earthquakes are a legit MLS squad. I keep thinking there is going to be a point where the player’s bodies cannot keep up with the physical requirements needed to play in Matias Almeyda’s system, but the players just go out and perform better week-after-week.

This was also another match where they went down early but then found a way to earn three points by the end, and both times they looked like the better team. Seven minutes into the match the Quakes were caught flatfooted on a free-kick and let the ball rattle around in their own box where Vancouver Whitecaps defender Doneil Henry was waiting to smash it passed Daniel Vega. The Whitecaps were never going to try to outgun the Quakes so their plan to bunker down and deal with the barrage now seemed like it may have some promise. Then the Quakes unloaded the bunker busters.

The first shot came from Vako just after the two-minute mark, and the last one happened just seconds before the 95th minute off the foot of Magnus Eriksson. Between those two was a salvo of 30 other shots, three that ended up in the back of the net, and after the final whistle was blown all Vancouver could do was recover their wounded and shocked troops and lead them to the dressing room.

Next Up Colorado Rapids

Next week the Quakes are back at the rebuilt fortress called Avaya to take on another team struggling in the West: Colorado Rapids. The Rapids are tied with Vancouver for last in the West, both squads sitting at 20 points for the season. Colorado lost at home last week to NYCFC in a match where they allowed The Pigeons to take 29 shots on goal. The Rapids also lost legendary goalkeeper Tim Howard to a calf injury at the end of the second half and had to bring in backup keeper Clint Irwin for the second time this season. Irwin gave up the game-winning goal in the 83rd minute to NYC’s Alexandru Mitrita but also had five saves in the match.

After the Rapids match, the Quakes stay at home to face another struggling team in the Columbus Crew then they head out to the Rockies to meet the Rapids again. There are a lot of points with the Quakes reach in the next month, and for the first time in a long time, I am excited about the possibilities.

Power Rankings

The new ESPN and power rankings came out today, so it was time for a fresh round of internet arguments about the most arbitrary list in sports. Why people care about these lists has always been a mystery to me, especially in MLS. If anyone asks you where the Quakes are in the rankings just remind them that they beat LA Galaxy by a combined score of 6-1.

It makes more sense in other sports around the country that have dozens of national-level writers covering the game and the individual teams, but if you were to take a field trip with all the national level writers covering MLS, you would only need a large van with an extra row of seats. That’s not taking a shot at anyone either, anyone that covers this sport and this league is passionate about both and are a massive inspiration to me personally, but the obsessions over this list are weird.

Also, everyone knows that the MLS rankings are just Andrew Wiebe, David Gass, and Matt Doyle in a room trying to figure everything out with Wiebe and Gass taking it way too seriously while Doyle hangs out by the door asking if they are done yet and if he could leave.

Reno 1868 FC Beat Galaxy II

If you are like me and can’t get enough of the Quakes playing better soccer than Galaxy you are going to enjoy this. For those unfamiliar with the USL Championship, it is the second division of American soccer and has become a farm system for some MLS teams who have created teams of reserves to play in this league to give their younger players some meaningful minutes in matches. Some teams like LA Galaxy, Portland Timbers, Sporting Kansas City and others own every aspect of the team often branding them “Whatever II” while others just take over the soccer side and let local people handle the day-to-day operations of the team.

The Quakes have an affiliation with Reno 1868 FC, and that is where young players like Gilbert Fuentes and Siad Haji are learning to become the future leaders of the Quakes. They are also very good, currently sitting in second place in the USL Championship Western Conference and in the middle of a five-game winning streak.

Their last match was on Saturday against LA Galaxy II and just like the Quakes and Galaxy I they overwhelmed the opposition and ended the night with a win and three more points for the season.