The San Jose Earthquakes have one game in their regular-season campaign down, 33 to go in 2020. They’re also got one month down, since Saturday’s game was technically in February. With eight months to go, let’s break it down into a bite-size look at the current month, March, and the games coming up for the Quakes.
Long story short: Every season is new, but these games don’t look easy! But two of three are at home.
Saturday, March 7: Home vs. Minnesota United
Minnesota broke through in 2019, reaching the playoffs for the first time, fielding a strong defense, putting together a decent corps of promising young players, reaching the U.S. Open Cup final and winning some personal awards along the way.
Minnesota is expected to be strong again this season, although they have a new goalkeeper (Tyler Miller) and a new striker (Luis Amarilla, who scored on his debut last week). However, last year they were just 5-10-2 in league play on the road. Every season is different, but that was by far their best road mark in their MLS history. Considering this game is at Earthquakes Stadium, San Jose absolutely have a chance in this. But they won’t be able to just show up and get a win, as the Loons will definitely put up a good fight at the very least.
Saturday, March 14 - Away at Philadelphia Union
After this next game, the Quakes are hitting the road for the first time this year as they’ll take on the Union at Subaru Park on the almost-Ides of March. Philly kicked off their season Saturday with a 2-0 loss at FC Dallas, a scoreline which was pretty unfair considering the performances on both sides, but them’s the breaks sometimes in soccer. And then the Union play LAFC this weekend, so they could very easily be 0-2-0 by the time this game rolls around.
The Union are in a remarkably similar position to Minnesota in terms of their standing. They didn’t get the individual awards last year, but a squad of youngsters with a few veterans put together a lunchpail mentality and had their best season to date in 2019, finishing as the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference and winning the first playoff game in club history.
Expect more of the same this year. Philly won’t take the headlines as a top-line contender, but they have quietly built a solid team. While their lack of spending means the margins are much finer (sound familiar, Quakes fans?) they seem to have hit on a recipe to be a good team and if things break the right way, they could win a trophy, certainly.
Philadelphia were 10-3-4 at home in the regular season last year, but as a team that is fundamentally in a similar situation as the Earthquakes — same coach, most of the same roster, just trying to improve — it will be another tough test for San Jose, but this is MLS, anything can happen!
Saturday, March 21 - Home vs. Sporting Kansas City
Sporting are coming off a brutal 2019 campaign — they finished second-last in the Western Conference, missed the playoffs for the first time in nearly a decade, and were six points and had three fewer wins than San Jose.
However...there’s a lot of optimism in Kansas City that last year was a fluke, and they’ve added Mexican forward Alan Pulido, who scored in his debut, a 3-1 road win over the Vancouver Whitecaps. Now, granted, Vancouver finished below Sporting last year, so maybe that result is a mirage, but take Sporting lightly at your own peril. They are projected to be a playoff team again, but with real concerns surrounding their defense, the Quakes’ love of running could catch them out (if they score goals, of course).
So there you have it. It’s hard to project the lay of the land so early in the season, but San Jose are meeting two teams that made the playoffs last year and all three are preseason picks to make the postseason this year. Two of three games are at home, but you’d be hard-pressed to say at this point the Quakes would be favored at this point. Then again, with another game or two down, our opinions could change entirely! That’s why they play the games, after all!
What do you think? How would you project these three games for the Quakes? What would be a good return? Let’s chat in the comments below!