The San Jose Earthquakes have been able to make good use of their substitutes in the Matias Almeyda era. They’ve spurred many a good performance to cap off games, and they nearly pulled off another comeback on opening day Friday.
Almeyda’s second half substitutes helped change the complexion of the game against the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Stadium. Shea Salinas in particular was immense off the bench, as he dribbled through traffic in the box, helped change the energy, set up San Jose’s goal on the night and nearly set up the equalizer in what turned out to be a 2-1 loss.
The goal that did come was courtesy of another sub, defender Paul Marie, who took a pass from Salinas and hit a curling blast from range to pull the Earthquakes back into the game in the 74th minute.
“It was a great goal, I was very happy to score and you know, kind of give that push, getting something, bringing some new energy. So I was very happy to score. Now I wish we could have done a little bit more, but it’s the game,” Marie told reporters after the game.
Quakes players talk quite a bit about being the “grain of sand” to contribute to the team no matter how big or small their on-field role, and Marie said he knows his job is to be ready whenever his name is called.
“I mean we all are ready, I think me and Shea have been working now for three years together,” he said. “So I think that helps a lot, we know each other. And then when you’re on the bench you have to be positive, be ready for what’s coming. So, every time I get subbed [in] I’ll just give it all, you know?”
The Earthquakes needed the boost from their reinforcements because their first half performance was sluggish against the sharper Dynamo.
“I think we’ll take away the impression that the subs gave us and the energy that they gave us,” said midfielder Jackson Yueill, who played the full 90. “I think the second half was much better than the first and the energy was better and we created more chances and, you know at the end, we were close to tying it. But, overall I think we wanted to start off the season with with the win and start off with a lot of energy and credit to Houston, they played well in the first half and, and they outplayed us a bit and it took us a little bit to get into the game. But it’s a long season and I think there’s still a lot to improve from the team and I think we’re right there and a few things to tweak and to get better for next week.”
Yueill referenced the Quakes nearly tying the match in the dying minutes, as Salinas charged upfield on a counterattack, hit a shot that forced a save from Houston goalkeeper Marko Maric, and Chris Wondolowski — another sub — was at the back post for the tap-in off the rebound. The legendary striker inexplicably muffed the chance.
An improbable comeback would have been so Quakes, frankly, but it was not meant to be.
Still, Yueill credited Marie with scoring the goal to get the team back into the game, and emphasized the need for everyone to do their part over the rest of the season.
“Great strike, I’m super happy for him,” Yueill said. “I think it’s vital for us to have the whole team contribute and we’re a team who who relies on the group to help us in situations and I think that goal kind of gave us a little bit motivation and gave us a drive and it was from Paul. It’s not easy to score those kind of goals and he made it look really nice and really good and so I’m very happy for him and hopefully we can do that more often and from other guys that kind of can come in and help contribute in that way.”
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