It has become a simple fact of life for Dominic Kinnear’s San Jose Earthquakes that they will struggle on the road. Having clinched one sole road victory in the last year and a half, they are an entirely different team away from home than in San Jose by almost all statistical measurements.
Even in one of their less disjointed displays in New England on Wednesday night, they could only scrape by with a scoreless draw against the New England Revolution.
Heading into a long ten-day road trip, Kinnear made multiple changes to the team’s starting eleven, most notably dropping forward Marco Ureña from the starting lineup for the first time after a sub-par performance against FC Dallas last weekend. Instead, Danny Hoesen made his first start of the season up top alongside Chris Wondolowski.
Additionally, Cordell Cato retained his starting spot out wide for the second straight match, despite his patchy distribution and defensive susceptibility in comparison with his opposite winger, Jahmir Hyka.
The Quakes burst off the starting blocks but were immediately met with Kryptonite as the Revs put the visitors under the cosh with a high press. Kinnear’s men, having deliberately played more direct against NYCFC in their last road trip, opted to build out of the back on this occasion. They were quicker than usually in their build-up, but were stretched too wide to hold onto the ball long enough to create any meaningful chances.
Although many advocated for the return of Fatai Alashe to center-back despite his struggles against Dallas, Kinnear, ever the pragmatist, cut short the central midfielder’s brief defensive foray and reinstated Victor Bernardez at the heart of the defense.
However, there was still far too much space for New England to attack between Bernardez and Florian Jungwirth. Lee Nguyen recorded the first dangerous shot of the match, firing into the side-netting from the right in the seventeenth minute. Juan Agudelo came close soon thereafter, and the proceedings opened up as Wondolowski uncharacteristically whiffed a golden opportunity from Hoesen’s cross at the other end. Hoesen hit the post from a near-post cross moments later and also Nguyen poked a low effort wide in a flurry of action.
Nguyen tested David Bingham at the end of another diagonal run and Shaun Francis cleared Antonio Mlinar Delamea’s towering header off the line, yet the match somehow remained scoreless after a breathless ten minutes. As the half settled down, Wondolowski corked Francis’ cross high and wide with five minutes left in the first period.
However, the Quakes began to establish a foothold in the match and push forward on the other side of the half. Cato tested Cody Cropper and Hyka curled wide early in the second period, while midfield Fatai Alashe forced a fantastic reaction save from Cropper at the end of Cato’s low cross in the sixty-fifth minute.
Bingham denied Diego Fagundez with a finger-tip save to keep the Quakes alive, yet despite their late spurt of energy, Kinnear was clearly playing for a draw as he brought on defensive center-midfielder Darwin Ceren for Wondolowski in the closing minutes.
It was the team’s first road point of the season, but it’s premature to attach too much weight to that fact.
Center-back Jungwirth provided a decent summary. “Not really bad,” he mused in an Instagram post after the match, “but not amazing.”
It’s a sentiment the Quakes know rather well.