Ike Opara scored two headers off corner kicks, and the Loons added a third goal on a follow-up off a penalty, leaving San Jose head coach Matias Almeyda to admit Opara’s skill was nearly unstoppable while also claiming the marking was nowhere near good enough by his side overall.
“I think we have to analyze this game very well, obviously there’s the analysis that we make about the opponent, but I liked the way the team played the last game, they did good things, and they overcame a 2-0 result which is hard to overcome,” Almeyda explained to reporters via translator. “Today we have to see, taking away the set pieces and analyze the game itself. In the game it was even, but you cannot make so many mistakes. It’s one thing when a striker or defender jumps because the guy can hit the ball very well, and the ability to get up high and having a great header. He could have been two heads higher than you, so we should applaud that goal.
“Now when you lose a mark, when you concede a penalty, it’s our mistake,” he continued. “When you mess up, you have to kick off in the middle, so we have to improve all that. But the unfortunate thing is we’ve been working on this for awhile, and this marking, to me I should work on even more as the coach to keep on improving. There’s no excuse on our end for this game, this game’s the reality, the reality is we lost it, we were overcome and made very serious mistakes.”
The big story in the offseason for the Quakes was the squad remaining virtually unchanged from 2019, with only Oswaldo Alanis entering the starting lineup among the handful of signings, the rest of whom were Homegrown players or draft picks.
But the players insisted taking a point in their first two games does demonstrate improvement on last year.
“It’s a loss, but it’s only the second game of the year,” Quakes midfielder Jackson Yueill said, as quoted by Pro Soccer USA. “And I think we’re much better than we were at this time last year. We were getting destroyed and we were able to turn it around. I take this as something to learn from and improve, and we have a lot of games left to play.”
With Yueill setting out to play for the U.S. U-23 Men’s National Team for Olympic qualifying this month, there will be at least one change in the lineup in the coming weeks, although given the struggles of the team as a whole against Minnesota, one wonders if Almeyda will look to make more changes moving forward.
But Almeyda got defensive when asked why Florian Jungwirth hasn’t played yet this year, telling Jamon Moore since he wasn’t at preseason camp to watch the players, he wouldn’t know who performed—except the Earthquakes kept preseason almost completely behind closed doors, so no one outside the team could have checked out what was on display.
Given three set piece goals and seven goals against at home, I asked Almeyda about why no Flo (#Quakes74 Defender of the Year) or Judson. He attempted to make it about me "identify(ing) with Florian", but the upshot is that he only sees Flo as a left-sided CB behind Alanís. pic.twitter.com/i1i54xcOCG— JMoore Quakes (@JmooreQuakes) March 8, 2020
On the bright side, the MLS debut of 16-year-old Cade Cowell was a legit positive for the Quakes on Saturday. Cowell was brought on at halftime with Minnesota ahead 4-1, and the relative pressure off gave the youngster a chance to get in the game and see what he can do.
Cowell had some impressive plays in his first 45, with the midfielder looking like he was ready for his opportunity.
He's only 16.— San Jose Earthquakes (@SJEarthquakes) March 9, 2020
And he really did this in his debut. pic.twitter.com/di3moE1VRV
“My impressions are positive,” Almeyda said when asked about Cowell. “I think that in every team I have been in, I have always tried to support the younger players. This is a young player with lots of talent, who has a great future and my idea is to help him grow little by little. I think that, not only for San Jose, but for the U.S. Men’s National Team, there’s a promising player called Cade who has a great future and that we’ll be helping little by little.”
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