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Monday Kickback: Week 25

Quakes back at home and back on track

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at San Jose Earthquakes Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The San Jose Earthquakes were back at Avaya Stadium after going winless on the road. They were without first-year manager Matias Almeyda patrolling the sidelines after he was sent off in the first half of Wednesday’s match in Southern California against Los Angeles FC.

Quakes cant crack the LAFC code

Usually, when you think about Earthquakes and Los Angeles, what comes to mind are images of the cracked apartment buildings and broken freeway interchanges, but when it comes to Major League Soccer, the story flips. Since joining the league, last season LAFC and the Quakes have squared off four times with Los Angeles winning every single game. The combined score of those matches is 15-3, and all three of the Quake’s goals came in their first-ever meeting, which they lost 4-3.

The Quakes opportunity to show the league that their style of play can compete with anyone in the league turned into another clinic by Carlos Vela and LAFC. The game was much closer than what the final score showed. The Quakes outshot Los Angeles 22-18 although only seven of those were on target. San Jose also leads the game in possession and total passes, which is a hallmark of their game under Matias Almeyda. The first-year manager missed most over half the match after being sent off in the 39th minute for arguing a handball that was not called or reviewed by referee Kevin Stott.

It took several minutes for Almeyda to leave the pitch who at first seemed to offer his translator as a sacrifice for his objections. Stott was not happy with such small tribute and held up the match until Almeyda found a tunnel to leave the field of play. That ejection meant the Quakes would be without the man that orchestrated their turnaround for a pivotal home match three days later against the Whitecaps.

The road trip ends, and Quakes get a win at Avaya against Vancouver

One most anticipated and heated rivalries of Heineken Rivalry Week brought to you by Continental Rum, and Cheez Advocadocare was the historic matchup between the Quakes and Vancouver Whitecaps.

Joking aside the Quakes had gone winless in their last four matches going into Saturday. In that time they have also been working their way down the Western Conference table dropping down to sixth place. A win or draw in San Jose would not only keep them in the playoff race it would also quiet down the naysayers that have been expecting the Quakes to crumble since late April. As I stated above the Quakes have not been playing particularly bad this last month, much of their losses look statistically similar to their wins except for one key area: goals.

The Quakes have been getting shots on goal, but their finishing has lacked a precise touch and a lot of those shots that Vako and Chris Wondolowski were getting in the net are now getting saved. Last Saturday’s target for their artillery barrage was Vancouver Whitecaps goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau who faced a record 19 shots against his goal. Three of the shots made their way by him, but the 16 he managed to save was enough for him to break the record of most saves in a game, breaking Tony Meola’s 22-year-old record.

The win kept the Quakes in the Western Conference race, and they currently sit in sixth place one point behind LA Galaxy and Minnesota United. Next up is a game against Orlando City who is in a playoff race of their own in the East, they sit just three points behind Toronto FC for the seventh and final playoff spot.

New writer in the family

I want to take a moment to welcome Eric Tran to Center Line Soccer. Eric is excellent at looking at stats and breaking them all down into a digestible form for people like me who like straightforward explanations. He just released an article about the Quakes relationship with Second Spectrum, give it a read and look forward to more articles from him in the future.