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San Jose Earthquakes feel vindicated by staying the course

Plus, Wondo on his plans after this season.

MLS: LA Galaxy at San Jose Earthquakes Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The San Jose Earthquakes have won four of their last five games, after a rousing 4-0 thumping of California Clasico rivals LA Galaxy Wednesday in Carson.

The team seems to be back to the form they were in during the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando over the summer, pressing hard, passing well, shooting early and often and dictating games to their opponents.

With a long and chastening winless run sandwiched in the middle of those times this season, the willingness to stay the course appears to have been the right call, when many outsiders around the league thought Matias Almeyda must have lost the locker room.

Near the nadir, Earthquakes captain Chris Wondolowski told reporters that the team needed to buckle down and redouble their efforts to execute Almeyda’s system, a rebuke to perceptions that the season was surely lost. After Wednesday’s win, Wondolowski referred to that previous commitment.

“I remember talking to you guys, that our plan isn’t going to change,” Wondolowski said in the postgame press conference. “We understand we need to fix a lot of things and fix some major problems but we’re going to stay the course. And I still believe we’re going to make a deep run in the playoffs.

“That belief has never wavered, it’s very nice to get some of the results so that it snowballs and you can have tangible points that you’re getting and you see where you are making the corrections and I think we still have a ways to go but I think we’ve corrected a few of the things,” he added.

While the Galaxy have been woeful themselves lately, losing six in a row, two of those to the Quakes, Almeyda declined to address LA’s struggles out of respect for his compatriot Guillermo Barros Schelotto, the Galaxy head coach.

But Wondolowski said the switch was flipped for San Jose when they got their signature press clicking again.

“One of the biggest turnarounds is how we execute our press. And I think before we weren’t doing it correctly and when you don’t you get exposed,” Wondolowski said. “...When our defensive pressure became correct, we win the ball in better areas. When you do that, you’re able to create more opportunities, you’re able to possess the ball in their half and be able to open up the defense and also to wear them down. I think many of our games we wear teams down and once you see, about the 60th, 70th minute, that’s when we really make our mark.”

Wondolowski said coming into the 2020 season that it would be his last as a player, before the coronavirus shutdown gave him reason to contemplate extending his legendary career. The latest? The door remains open but he’s not ready to think about the future as the Earthquakes chase success now.

“I’ve definitely been giving some thought to next year but right now it doesn’t change anything because my whole thought is I’m putting everything into this season,” he said. “I gave some thought about next year and I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m going to wait until the end of this year before anything. Every ounce of energy, every ounce of desire is going into this year and going into a playoff run and deep into a playoff push. That’s all that’s on my mind right now. Is winning fun? Yes, absolutely. Do I love it? Yeah, it makes it even better. But I love coming into practice even before. It makes it all that much better and again, if it was up to me I’d be doing this until I was 94.”

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