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Welcome to the season: Houston Dynamo 2, San Jose Earthquakes 1

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The rust was evident on opening night.

MLS: San Jose Earthquakes at Houston Dynamo Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports

The San Jose Earthquakes opened the 2021 season with a decent matchup on the road, but came away second-best on the night, losing 2-1 to the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Stadium.

In spite of a golazo late in the game and a few chances to tie up the game, the Earthquakes were sluggish and their passing was not good enough on the night. Without their trademark energy and ability to ping the ball around, they were somewhat lucky the scoreline was as close as it was.

Matias Almeyda’s first XI of the season featured Eric Remedi making his Earthquakes debut, in place of Judson, and Tommy Thompson at right back. Cade Cowell started up top, the teenager coming off a strong preseason.

Bad news in the opening minutes, with Thompson grabbing his shoulder on an aerial play. He was looked at by the medical staff and ended up having to exit in the 8th minute, with Luciano Abecasis making his MLS debut as his replacement.

Houston newcomer Fafa Picault put the ball in the back of the net in the 11th minute, but the goal was called back for offside in the buildup.

But the Dynamo got on the board in the 39th minute, with Memo Rodriguez getting the ball on a breakaway, having the patience to wait for JT Marcinkowski to drop, and poked the ball over the GK.

Oswaldo Alanís nearly tied up the game on a direct free kick just before halftime, but his attempt for San Jose went just over the mark.

And in first-half stoppage time, Rodriguez nearly got a second goal, but his attempt on a scramble in the box clanged off the crossbar, saving the Earthquakes’ blushes.

The teams went into the break with San Jose down 1-0. The Quakes had some looks in the first 45 but they were very much the second-best side, aiming to raise their trademark intensity for the 2nd half.

Chofís Lopez, making his MLS debut, caused a scuffle a few minutes into the 2nd half, but in the end the attacker provoked some pushing and shoving and ended up with a yellow card for his troubles, which appeared to be a kick-out on a Houston player.

The Dynamo made it 2-0 in the 56th minute, as Maxi Urruti took a simple feed from Tyler Pasher’s square ball, and Urruti was wide open in the box, hitting the insurance goal.

Just before the hour mark, Almeyda rang in the changes, bringing in Chris Wondolowski, Andy Rios and Shea Salinas for Chofís, Carlos Fierro and Marcos Lopez. A few minutes later, Paul Marie entered the game for Cowell, in an effort to push Salinas upfield, who looked immediately dangerous after entering the game.

Just as it seemed like San Jose would limp to the finish, a sign of life, with Marie taking a feed from Salinas and hitting a cracker from the channel in the 74th minute.

The Earthquakes had a great chance for an equalizer on a counterattack run by Salinas, and his initial shot was blocked by Houston GK Marko Maric. Wondolowski had a wide-open goal and a tap-in off the rebound, but he somehow missed the mark, one of the most quizzical misses you’ll see from Wondo.

I think the performance from San Jose was disappointing, but the trademark determination was there. They really just looked rusty, and probably need some more time to gel, honestly.

The Quakes will next be in action next Saturday, for their home opener against FC Dallas. Again, this performance was disappointing but the Quakes weren’t that far away from splitting the points. Hopefully another week of training and hosting the next game will give San Jose the push they need to perform better. We’ll see.

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