How do they keep doing it?
The San Jose Earthquakes have become so adept at pulling out incredible comeback finishes in recent years that the latest one probably feels a bit ho-hum compared to the rest of the pile, but heads were certainly turned nationally when they came from 3-1 down to beat the Vancouver Whitecaps 4-3 Wednesday in the MLS is Back Tournament.
The two longest-tenured players on the roster, Chris Wondolowski and Shea Salinas, each came off the bench and scored in the furious rally, capped off with Salinas’ 98th-minute winner.
Ahead of the Quakes’ next game, Sunday against the Chicago Fire, Wondolowski was asked Friday about what is the secret sauce that allows San Jose to rack up yet another wild finish.
“It starts to become a belief when it happens, and you see it happen again and again,” he told reporters on a conference call. “You do believe that it will happen. I know I can speak for Shea as well that we’re enjoying this. We’re having fun again. It’s kind of two kids again playing a game, and I think that’s something Matias [Almeyda] has preached to us continuously. We both have just enjoyed it, enjoying every moment of it and hope we can continue it.”
With the upcoming game being the Earthquakes’ third and final match of the group stage, Wondo was asked if he thinks there will be major squad rotation after Almeyda played the same starting XI two games in a row, but the forward doesn’t expect it.
“I think that’s actually one of our strengths, is our depth of our squad,” Wondolowski began. “I think in Matias’ system, we’re just able to plug in the next man up. I think that makes it a very nice thing to have, something important that’s going to play a big role in this tournament coming up. That being said, it’s still a very important game. We want to try and win our group, we still have to make sure we qualify. We happen to play early in the tournament so nothing is completely set before we play so we have to make sure we get our job done first and foremost. I’m not really sure if there is going to be any rotation for this one, but I do think that everyone is ready and whoever is called upon will be able to get a good shift.”
The match against the Fire is a little different, with the Earthquakes drawing them only after original opponent FC Dallas dropped out of the tournament due to a team coronavirus outbreak. Was it challenging to pivot to prepare for a new opponent on short notice?
“We definitely had a good skeleton of a gameplan for Dallas coming in,” Wondolowski admitted. “Our coaching staff does a great amount of research. Having a change did throw a little bit of a wrench in it, but that being said, in a tournament format that we speak of, you have to be ready to have a scouting report on a week’s notice because you don’t know who you’re going to play. It could be even less, three to four days, especially once you get in the knockout rounds.
“So I think we feel very lucky to have the staff that we do, and how thorough they are in finding how we can break down our opponent but also finding our opponent’s strengths and how we can try to stop them as well. It is very important to do your research and have a scouting report. It’s something we do rely on, very much.”
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