JT Marcinkowski got the nod to start again this season with the San Jose Earthquakes mired in an eight-game winless run in league play, and since then they’ve won three straight games.
Coincidence? It certainly took a group effort to turn things around, but it doesn’t appear to be a coincidence that the 23-year-old looks the part of an MLS starter now.
Marcinkowski’s fourth start of the season was his best yet, as he made several key saves to help San Jose to a 3-0 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps on Wednesday, and he seems to be solidifying his spot as the No. 1 game over game.
For the homegrown product, his approach remains the same — be ready to play if called upon.
“If Matias [Almeyda] calls my name, I’ll be ready to play,” Marcinkowski said after Wednesday’s win. “We’re on a really good run right now and I think the team mentality and team chemistry has been really good, definitely a lot better than it was a few weeks ago. We just got to keep going forward with the same vibe and same collective effort.”
The team ethic for the Earthquakes under Almeyda has always been to support everyone, but teammate Jackson Yueill credited Marcinkowski’s ability to play out of the back for helping San Jose turn the page during the current winning streak.
“Of course with JT back there, his distribution is great. I think everyone has stepped up, picked up to where we were in Orlando,” Yueill said postgame on Wednesday.
The Quakes’ next game is a good test, as they’ll face a Portland Timbers side who routed them in San Jose just a few weeks ago. Marcinkowski sounded ready to take on the challenge.
“I think the good thing is we didn’t play them too long ago,” he explained. “There’s a lot of video we can watch and figure some things out. I think they did well, they took advantage of our mistakes but I think that’s something we want to improve on and we’re in a much different spot than a few weeks ago when we played them. We’ve kind of got back to who we are and played Earthquakes’ style of soccer. We just have to keep that mentality going. So much of it is a group effort, doesn’t matter if you’re starting or coming off the bench.”
One play Marcinkowski nearly pulled off against the Whitecaps midweek was an assist, as he set up attacker Cristian Espinoza on a quick counterattack in the first, half, but Espinoza couldn’t stay onside on the play, and his chip went over.
The goalkeeper said that play was both a function of working on trying to catch the opponent off while also just seeing it nearly come together in the moment.
“Yesterday in training we knew they had a pretty high line and so we definitely talked about looking over the top and trying to play Cristian through, but I also think it wasn’t something that we totally planned,” Marcinkowski said. “It was kind of one of those spur of the moment things. I got lucky with the ball and Cristian made a really good run, unfortunate not to finish it off. But I’m glad that we got a few goals in and came away with three points.”
What do you think? Leave a comment below.