The San Jose Earthquakes seek to maintain their perfect start to the 2017 season in their first away outing of the year, as they travel to Sporting Kansas City on the back of two propitious victories over the Montreal Impact and Vancouver Whitecaps.
Never before have the club enjoyed a 3-0-0 start to the season in their nineteen years in Major League Soccer, although such a feat would be reminiscent of their infamous 2012 title-winning season, in which they started the season 7-1-2. Just five players remain from that memorable year (David Bingham, Chris Wondolowski, Simon Dawkins, Victor Bernardez and Shea Salinas), yet parallels are already being drawn.
“The biggest thing is that we have confidence,” midfielder Shea Salinas told the Quakes’ official website. “Like in 2012, we believe we’re going to win every game. That’s how we felt the second [Vancouver] got the red card.”
“Right now we’re pressing teams well, we’re very energetic on and off the ball, so we have to carry that into Kansas City.”
Dominic Kinnear’s men have surprised many with their strong start, each victory flexing different muscles and exhibiting their new array of depth. The club cruised to a 1-0 win over Montreal in their season opener, operating a tight press and controlling a rather subdued match, whereas, last weekend, Vancouver’s relentless press threw the game wide opening in the first half hour.
The Quakes were ill-equipped to handle the initial overwhelming pressure and conceded two goals in the opening twenty minutes. Although a red card to goalkeeper David Ousted paved the way for the home side to complete a fantastic three-goal comeback, however promising the Quakes were against ten, they were far worse against eleven.
The comeback was a testament to their character, but last weekend’s match also revealed the club’s weaknesses, which Kansas City will undoubtedly seek to exploit. Jahmir Hyka, whose halftime substitution against Vancouver spurred the Quakes on towards victory, said the Quakes are expecting SKC to employ a high press similar to Vancouver’s, which will serve as an early test of their adaptability.
That said, SKC haven’t exactly had the most vibrant start to the season, drawing their first two games 0-0. A tight, slower game could suit the Earthquakes, whose versatile offense has been patient on the ball and deadly when their chances arise.
Even a single win would equal their woeful (1-10-6) away record last season and, hopefully, begin to dispel their road woes under Kinnear.
HOW TO WATCH:
You can watch the Quakes live on CSN Plus or listen to the action on KNBR 1050 (English) and 1370 KZSF (Spanish) at 5:30 PT