Forward Andy Rios got on the scoresheet again, but the other three goals came from fullbacks Nick Lima (with a brace) and Tommy Thompson.
As a team that has long spread the scoring load around, I didn’t necessarily make the connection at first, but Earthquakes head coach Matias Almeyda highlighted just how many goals fullbacks have scored lately.
“I think we’ve repeated this type of performance many times, not with the goals and the result,” Almeyda said in Wednesday’s postgame press conference via interpreter. “Even when things were going badly we were looking for this system of play. There’s always, if you analyze our defensive system of play, few times we were able to achieve the system offensively and controlling the game. We’re happy with today’s victory, but it does not surprise me that Nick has scored, or that Tommy has scored, because if you go back 10 days, Paul Marie has scored a goal, you go back 15 days, Marcos Lopez scored a goal. It’s nicer when we’re able to finish the play but it’s not surprising because we’re always looking for that.”
Based on the data point of four different fullbacks scoring in the past five games, plus Almeyda’s words, does that mean the Quakes have unleashed a new strategy to purposely put the fullbacks in scoring positions?
Lima, who was famously a forward when he started his NCAA career at Cal, clearly gets a kick out of scoring but denied there was a new tactic in play lately.
“Hey, if it’s a new tactical wrinkle of ‘Hey, fullbacks go score,’ then I’m all for that,” Lima said with a laugh during a conference call with reporters Friday. “I think it’s just players getting in good positions and taking advantage of opportunities, something you’re allowed to do at times, you can get forward and it comes down to finishing chances. I think on the opposite end a bunch of those chances could be missed and then we’re not having this conversation. But quality finishes, it comes with the success the team’s been having, that guys have been able to score in the fullback position.”
The leading scorer right now in regular-season play for San Jose is Rios, with five goals this season, 21 other players around the league having scored more so far. Even Lima’s midweek brace puts him in a tie for fourth on the team in scoring this year, so the Quakes need everyone to pitch in.
Lima says he’ll continue to do his part while also attending to his defensive responsibilities.
“I hope the trend keeps going, I tell you I’m going to try to keep the trend going. It’s not something that we’ve exactly said ‘Hey, get forward’ but we’re definitely trying to push up and include the fullbacks getting balls in and being part of the offense, that’s for sure.”
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