After nearly four full months off, the San Jose Earthquakes returned to action through the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando Friday night, playing the Seattle Sounders to a 0-0 stalemate in the teams’ opening game in Group B play.
It was not so much a game for the neutral, but it was exactly the kind of game San Jose seeks, with quick transitions, a frenetic energy, and much of a it a grind. While it may not be for the neutral, grinding out a point, against the defending MLS Cup champions, is a good opening result for the Earthquakes.
The big development for Matias Almeyda’s starting XI was the return of Brazilian midfielder Judson, who was held out to open the season back in February. But even with the destroyer back on the field, the attack was pretty loaded, with Cristian Espinoza, Vako, Magnus Eriksson and Andy Rios starting, Chris Wondolowski held on the bench as a reserve. Danny Hoesen was apparently a surprise scratch, the attacker said to be out due to a migraine.
The first half didn’t result in any goals, but San Jose turned out to dominate most of the proceedings, with 64 percent possession and eight shots to Seattle’s six through the first 45 minutes.
Perhaps the best chance of the whole game came with Rios trying to poke home a low cross, but the shot ended up sailing wide of the mark.
Following the restart, it was more of the same, although Seattle seemed to find more of a rhythm. Still, the game was chaotic, as you have come to expect of an Earthquakes game, and San Jose maintained the edge in possession and shots throughout.
Right around the hour mark, Guram Kashia appeared to commit a foul of Raul Ruidiaz just inside San Jose’s box, a one-handed push to the Sounders forward’s chest, but nothing was called. Moments later, Kashia took out another Sounders player next to the sideline but only got called a foul on a very heavy challenge. Basically, Kashia got away with two bad fouls in a row.
The game was physical throughout, in line with the other games played so far at the MLS is Back Tournament, but the number of ill-advised challenges and dangerous plays on both sides was far above the usual standard for MLS these days. Again, it was no different than the other games, but the risk for a player to really injure another or himself seems to be sky-high with all the players rusty in Orlando.
Vako appeared to be brought down by Xavier Arreaga in Seattle’s box in the final 10 minutes of regulation, but the referee only called a corner kick.
Like I said, I think this is a good result all things considered for the Quakes. You could quibble and say with the edge in play, San Jose ought to have gone to win, but after such a long layoff and considering the circumstances, a draw is decent. Now, San Jose will need to seek wins in their next two group stage games to try to book their place in the knockout stage.
The Quakes are scheduled to be back in action Wednesday, when they will play the Vancouver Whitecaps.
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