Picture it: It’s July 15, 2020, the San Jose Earthquakes are playing their fourth game of the season and second at the MLS is Back Tournament and it’s the 70th minute.
They’re down 3-1 to the Vancouver Whitecaps, still winless on the season and looking like they’re already gearing up to write off this jaunt to Orlando to restart the most unconventional MLS season ever.
And then, the magic began.
First Chris Wondolowski scored. Then Oswaldo Alanís scored to tie it up. Then Shea Salinas won it in the 98th minute. Can you believe it?!
On one level, sure you can, because the Quakes have a knack for this. Dating back to the magical Goonies season in 2012, the heights in 2020 weren’t as high, but the best moments were about as special. From that comeback win, to the comeback win over LAFC that turned the season around, the MLS is Back knockout win over Real Salt Lake, the California Clasico wins over the LA Galaxy, and the epic playoff battle against Sporting Kansas City that came up just short, there were plenty of wonderful performances.
There was also the times of suffering. Getting blasted by Minnesota United to start the season, then getting the same treatment by the Loons again to crash out of the MLS is Back Tournament. Going eight games without a win to start the local return to play, seeming to sink the progress in the Matias Almeyda era, letting in by far the most goals in the league in 2020.
I think unlike any team I’ve ever covered, the Earthquakes were meant to handle what 2020 threw their way, however. Sure, the results weren’t always there, the talent gap was at times too much to overcome, but this team just didn’t give up. Ever.
This has been a difficult year, for all of us. Maybe the coronavirus pandemic and economic crisis, inability to live life like normal for eight months now, our health care system pushed to the absolute brink, protests in the street for justice and equality for all, a contentious election, all that, hasn’t gotten to you as much as others. Maybe some of those things have hit harder than others. It’s ok, we’re truly all going through it to an extent this year.
And at the best of times we all have bad days, and this year has produced more than its fair share of bad days. It’s been hard, and that’s ok.
So the example set by the Earthquakes has been inspiring, and I’m not the type to get wrapped up in being inspired by a soccer team. From the comebacks that were basically outside the window of what’s possible happening repeatedly, to the Quakes doubling down on their unusual style and getting results from it, against the odds, it is inspiring. All is not lost. We can get through this.
I hope that message resonates with you as it does with me. I wish the Quakes had won that playoff game and we’d be preparing for the next one, I think their play on the day absolutely deserved it. But their mentality was incredible. They didn’t get down on themselves. They just got back to work and made it a pretty good season all in all.
Thank you for your support of Center Line Soccer in 2020. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started running the site in January, but the support has been terrific so far and everyone has big hearts. That’s what you want in a time of crisis, big hearts and support. I’m going to keep covering this club as long as my bosses let me, and I’d appreciate it if you share this site with some more of your Quakes loving friends and family.
Thanks as well to the club for giving me a chance to cover the team well on a daily basis, some of that very much coming from remote media opportunities. Thanks to the players, Matias Almeyda and Jesse Fioranelli for answering questions this season, and for the bang-up interpreting jobs done by Agustin and Pedro.
Stay safe, be smart, and let’s do our part so I can come see your smiling faces at Earthquakes Stadium sometime in the nearish future.
What do you think? Leave a comment below.