In this week’s newsletter: Road trip ramblings, front office feature and more insider coverage of the San Jose Earthquakes!
It’s easy to be caught up in the gloom of the Quakes’ six-game winless streak, but the Quakes began this week on a positive note when new General Manager Jesse Fioranelli announced promising additions to his technical staff as he passed the 100-day mark with the Quakes. The club garnered league-wide interest after announcing the hiring of full-time scout Bruno Costa, formerly of the Brazilian Football Confederation and Fluminense.
Joining from the NASL’s Fort Lauderdale Strikers, Costa brings a network of contacts throughout South America, having scouted the likes of Neymar Jr. (Barcelona), Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool), Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City) and Willian (Chelsea) to the Brazilian Youth National Teams.
Fioranelli, speaking during a Facebook Live Q&A, said: “Bruno is a fantastic addition to the club. He’s worked with the Brazilian federation as chief scout, then also in the youth development as part of the Brazilian federation with Fluminense. Just like I said before, as we are heading closer to the summer transfer window, we will want to have a method on how we scout and how we recruit players—how we gain market intelligence, even, as to the trends and opportunities that present themselves. So, we want to be vetting our opportunities very carefully and having Bruno with us, I am sure that he will be giving us a lot of expertise when it comes to identifying not only talent internationally, but also being very present in the Bay Area.”
Additionally, Fioranelli provided an update on the status of the club’s open DP slots ahead of the summer transfer window, stating that the club are looking at multiple targets in central positions. He added they have ruled out “pre-pensioned” players over the ages of twenty-eight in their search.
New England Revolution 0-0 Quakes: Quakes held to scoreless draw against NE Revs
Houston Dynamo 2-0 Quakes: Pressure mounts on Quakes as 2-0 Houston defeat stretches winless streak
For most of his two-and-a-half-year reign in San Jose, Dominic Kinnear has been able to rely on a solid defensive foundation, but the new season as brought new challenges and forced experiments with multiple different center-back partnerships.
The Quakes began the season with Florian Jungwirth and Victor Bernardez at the back, but a red-card suspension to Bernardez led Kinnear to drop midfielder Fatai Alashe to center-back in a 1-1 draw with the Seattle Sounders. Alashe impressed enough to maintain his starting spot in the team’s draw with Dallas, but thirty-four-year-old Bernardez was reinstated in the back-line against New England on Wednesday. Although the Quakes kept a clean sheet, there were holes between Bernardez and Jungwirth that New England exploited.
Alashe then returned to the back-line against the Dynamo but gave away a deciding penalty in the tenth minute with a rash challenge on the edge of the area. Having similarly erred against Dallas, lunging into a challenge that allowed the visitors to exploit the space behind him and open the scoring, it’s unclear whether Kinnear is willing to stick with Alashe through an inevitable learning curve or revert to Bernardez.
Jungwirth has been the only constant in the equation, but even he told Quakes Talk Weekly that he is unhappy with his transition to defense from the midfield.
Despite an impressive first two seasons in goal for the Quakes, David Bingham has appeared noticeably less confident this season. The twenty-seven-year-old has started seventy-five consecutive games for the Quakes since the beginning of the 2015 season, asserting himself as a key asset at the back for the club and even breaking into the US National Team fold. However, Bingham has been at fault for two high-profile errors this already season, conceding a howler last month against Sporting Kansas City and fluffing a corner that led to Houston’s second goal on Saturday.
Although the Quakes were pleasantly robust against New England, they lacked the teeth to capitalize on their chances and lost all momentum against Houston. The Quakes are, by almost all statistical measurements, an entirely different team on the road than at Avaya Stadium. They have won only one of their last twenty-four away games, reverting to an unattractive, sloppy and blunt style of play. It’s difficult to isolate a single cause of this fallout; indeed, Kinnear would be better able to address the problem if there were a clear single source.
A visit to the laggard Minnesota United next weekend is now poised to be a vital benchmark for the rest of the season. If Kinnear’s men cannot even defeat the weakest MLS opposition on the road, no measure of confidence at Avaya is likely to suffice for a successful playoff run.
What They Said
Danny Hoesen on his first start against the Revs: “It wasn’t our best game tonight. We had a number of good chances, me on at the post, Wondo with a good chance and Fatai (Alashe) had a chance, but the ‘keeper made a good save on him. We could have won and we could have lost so a tie is a fair result in the end.”
Coach Dominic Kinnear on the Houston defeat: “We made some tired decisions out there with the ball. It is a difficult day and a difficult road trip, and we are all disappointed. I don’t think the Dynamo overwhelmed us. I think we made some mistakes and made it easier for them.”
Captain Chris Wondolowski on the road trip: “It is not easy to go cross country and then down to Houston to play a Saturday midday game. It’s a game that we needed a win from and we have to move on from here.”
Revolution 0-0 Quakes:
Dynamo 2-0 Quakes:
Marco Ureña burst out of the starting blocks this season, with dominant performances against New York City FC and the Seattle Sounders up top alongside Chris Wondolowski. However, he has struggled this past week, too often isolated up top, given the presence of crossing-oriented wingers Shea Salinas and Cordell Cato in the absence of Jahmir Hyka, Tommy Thompson, and the injured Simon Dawkins.
Danny Hoesen was more dynamic in his first start of the season against the Revolution and also a threat off the bench against Houston. With Cato and Salinas in the lineup, we predict Hoesen will find more success alongside Wondolowski than Ureña, and, perhaps, would benefit from a Hoesen-Ureña partnership up top.
THE WEEK AHEAD
The Quakes will travel to Minnesota to face expansion side Minnesota United for the first time ever on Saturday. Although Adrian Heath’s men were demolished in 5-1 and 6-1 in their first two MLS matches, they have begun to turn the ship around with two consecutive home wins over Real Salt Lake and the Colorado Rapids. Indeed they have already scored five more goals than the Quakes so far this season, with five from the foot of Christian Ramirez alone. However, the Quakes should fancy themselves to unlock a defense that has allowed three goals-a-game on average, and the pressure would further intensify on Kinnear if his men did not return home from a three-game road trip with a single win.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
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— Quakes Epicenter (@QuakesEpicenter) April 22, 2017
AFTERSHOCKS: FROM THE WEEK’S NEWS
Mercury News: Soccer’s Final Four Returns to San Jose’s Avaya Stadium
Quakes After 90: YOU get a draw, YOU get a draw, EVERYBODY gets a draw!
The Coaching Journey: Paul Holocher Interview
TRUCKEE TALK: RENO 1868 UPDATE
Quakes USL affiliate Reno 1868 drew the Colorado Switchbacks 2-2 on Saturday night in Nevada, a stoppage-time equalizer from Colorado denying the home side their first ever USL victory. Quakes loanees Matt Bersano (goalkeeper) and Kip Colvey (full-back) both started. Reno will face Phoenix Rising FC, who recently welcomed former Chelsea star Didier Drogba as the world’s first player-owner, next Saturday in Arizona.
Quakes academy prospect Gilberto Rivera was featured in a Telemundo 48 segment last week, and his U-12 side lived up to expectations in an 8-1 thumping of the Bay Oaks Academy on Saturday. The U-14s also won 5-1, while the U-17/18s drew the Sacramento Republic 1-1. Additionally, U-16 academy player Mario Anaya received another call-up to the national team and U-20 National Team goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski, formerly of the Quakes academy and Burlingame Dragons, was also in the news after training with German side Eintracht Frankfurt.
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