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San Jose Earthquakes 2020 player postmortem: JT Marcinkowski

Homegrown helped turn around the Quakes’ season.

MLS: San Jose Earthquakes at Sporting Kansas City Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

JT Marcinkowski entered his third season with the San Jose Earthquakes in a similar spot to his second season: A backup to Daniel Vega, who would get playing time with Reno 1868 FC to help him develop.

But the pandemic shut down the loan connection between the Quakes and Reno, and then a terrible stretch for the club in the middle of the season left Matias Almeyda in need of making adjustments, and Marcinkowski took full advantage of the newly-offered playing time.

So Marcinkowski’s fate on the season, ending it as the starter, was not necessarily written in the stars entering 2020. Vega had obvious flaws to his game, but he was a veteran and many managers opt for experience above just about everything in goal. Meanwhile, Marcinkowski was largely untested, getting some playing time in 2018, but that Quakes team was awful, frankly. Was he really ready to take over as a 23-year-old?

Again, while the Homegrown GK got a start once a few games before becoming the starter for the rest of the season, his insertion in the lineup made an immediate difference in San Jose’s results. Regular season games with Vega in 2020 gave the Earthquakes a 2W-6L-4D record. With Marcinkowski, they went 6W-3L-2D. Put another way, in the regular season San Jose earned 10 points with Vega in goal, and 20 points with Marcinkowski.

Here were Marcinkowski’s stats with the Earthquakes in 2020:

JT Marcinkowski 2020 Earthquakes Statistics

2020 Games Played Games Started Minutes Saves Goals Allowed GAA Shutouts Win % Save % Yellow Cards Red Cards
2020 Games Played Games Started Minutes Saves Goals Allowed GAA Shutouts Win % Save % Yellow Cards Red Cards
Regular Season 11 11 990 25 14 1.27 4 54 64 1 0
MiB Knockouts 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Playoffs 1 1 120 5 3 3 0 0 62.5 0 0
Total 12 12 1,110 30 17 1.42 4 60 64 1 0

I don’t want to say Marcinkowski getting a run is the only reason the Earthquakes turned around their season down the stretch. This team had an unbelievable faith in Almeyda, where most teams under most managers would have basically checked out mentally and showed up to work to get through the season, this team never gave up hope. Plus, there were a few tactical tweaks that helped the club perform better, and they seemed to come to grips with the departure of Magnus Eriksson, whose importance was especially felt in his immediate absence.

But honest to goodness, Vega was taking more off the table than he was putting on it, and Marcinkowski deserved a shot. He outperformed the veteran, and he should be the starter moving forward.

Is there a chance Almeyda is tempted to try Vega again in 2021? I think it’s possible. I wouldn’t say the coach doesn’t like Marcinkowski but again, I think he’s familiar with Vega, and he may want to give his compatriot a shot to come good again and show he’s better than that run in 2020 indicated.

But I think the way to go moving forward is to make Marcinkowski the starter as long as he’s performing. He entered the fray with the team in a very bad state defensively and evened the ship. Honestly he didn’t get enough credit for how well he played when everyone outside the team had written them off, and it saved the season in the end.

I think the future is bright for Marcinkowski, and he’s definitely in the broad goalkeeper pool for the U.S. Men’s National Team. But in order to break through with the senior team, he’s going to have to play lights out for his club. If he can help the Quakes get that much better in 2021 and he plays stellar soccer, that will help his club and help his cause with his country. There’s all the motivation in the world for Marcinkowski, and we’ll see how he manages to perform if he’s the No. 1 again in 2021.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.