Two MLS originals who almost shared a unique fate take the pitch at Avaya Stadium this Saturday. The San Jose Earthquakes are the only MLS team to have been relocated from their original location to a new one. The Columbus Crew almost mate the same fate, to a different Texas city, but a push from their supporters and local business owners kept the team in Ohio. This season, however, other than bringing in new managers, both sides have been opposites.
The Crew started the Caleb Porter era on a positive note only losing once in their first six matches. Then the injury bug hit the team and the season went sideways, and the Crew now sit in 10th place in the Eastern Conference with a goal differential of -12. A new manager, several key injuries, and bad form for several months may have had other teams looking at next season. Instead, Columbus waited for the summer transfer window and made a massive amount of moves that now seem to be paying off.
The foreign players they added to the squad were young Costa Rican midfielder Luis Diaz, Curacao goalkeeper Eloy Room, Dutch winger Youness Mokhtar. They also added Romario Williams from Atlanta United and Jordan Hamilton from Toronto FC to make them the most ambitious team of the summer transfer window. Those signings seem to be paying dividends already as the Crew has two wins and a draw in their last three matches including a road victory against New York Red Bulls.
Because of their place in the Eastern Conference table and the struggles, they have had under first-year manager Caleb Porter Quakes fans may be overlooking this team and looking at next week but the Crew know what a win in San Jose would mean. It would show the league that they are serious about competing now and should be considered 2019 playoff contenders. Right now they sit nine points behind the New England Revolution for that final playoff spot, so they have some work to do.
For the Quakes to win this game, they need to do what they have been doing since April, putting pressure on teams early and never relenting until the ref blows the final whistle. Carlos Fierro and Andres Rios are now on the squad and will more offensive depth to a team that is already third in the league in goals scored. You read that right, with 39 goals so far this season the Quakes sit behind only LAFC and East-leading Philadelphia Union for most goals scored in MLS. They probably won’t catch up to Los Angeles but for the Quakes to be that high up after that disastrous first month is yet another reason why this team is one of the best in MLS and why Matias Almeyda is a contender(lock) for Coach of the Year.