It’s been feast or famine for the San Jose Earthquakes this season, as the team has been either quite good or quite bad this season.
Right now, it’s a good time, with the Quakes on a three-game winning streak, their second three-game streak this year across all competitions. But with a nine-game winless run sandwiched between those stretches, the good vibes still feel a bit precarious.
And maybe that’s why Earthquakes head coach Matias Almeyda has emphasized the collective throughout, in good times and bad.
This was particularly true Wednesday, following San Jose’s 3-0 win over a 9-man Vancouver Whitecaps team, where Almeyda hammered home the point that the whole team is playing well right now.
“I think everybody did well...There’s not one player that stands out, but rather the team. When you play football, you play with 11. The most important thing San Jose has is that each player has to give their own grain of sand in whatever position he’s at. I never [focus on] one player, but the team,” he told reporters in Spanish through an interpreter in the postgame press conference.
Even after being asked about goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski, whose entry into the lineup has coincided with the winning streak, or forward Andy Rios, who scored his second goal in as many games in the win Wednesday, Almeyda resisted giving any person too much sunshine.
“When the team functions as a team we’re able to achieve the style we’re looking for,” Almeyda explained. “Andy Rios may not have been able to finish the plays but he’s one of the players who runs the most, he’s one of the players who plays with his soul, he does work that maybe isn’t seen and when they score, it’s a joy for them. But I don’t take away one player. I’m convinced when the 11 play for the 11 we work as a team, and football is played with a team.”
Almeyda is very much a player’s coach, and credit to him for getting a turnaround from his group even after the long winless run, when San Jose were shipping goals and didn’t look like they could get back on track.
But they have, and now they look ahead to a big litmus test game Sunday against the Portland Timbers, who crushed the Quakes 6-1 just a few weeks ago.
A reporter asked Almeyda if he has been wearing a purple sweater lately as a superstition, and let’s be real, many coaches are superstitious and we could absolutely see Almeyda using lucky tokens himself — but the Argentine flatly dismissed the notion of superstition.
“The worst thing I can do in life is carry myself because of luck,” he said. “The truth is I never think about what I put on, I’m not a model. If I believe in a color, if I believe what I put on, I would be a very insecure person.”
That’s settled, then. I imagine he’s going to bury the purple sweater for Sunday’s game, but the Timbers game will show if San Jose’s revival is something that will last, or if the team will need to dig even deeper, together, to get through an unprecedented season.
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