When we last spoke to San Jose Earthquakes center-back Florian Jungwirth, he explained his desire to push higher up the field into a midfield role. With two assists and a game-winning goal in his last two outings, he’s certainly building his case.
Having netted against Minnesota United last weekend, Jungwirth was once again involved in the scoring with two incisive assists to Chris Wondolowski in a comprehensive 3-0 dismantling of the Portland Timbers at Avaya Stadium. Jungwirth’s box-to-box contributions helped earn the Quakes their widest margin of victory since 2015, three unanswered goals offering a dazzling display of their offensive potential.
The Quakes, it seems, have found their Flo.
“We have to develop every week,” said Jungwirth. “We have good players who can play the ball and we have a good position, but it needs time. We have new players from Europe, we all have our own styles of play, and we have to find a good mix.”
A reliable starting eleven, however, means Jungwirth won’t be making any center-forward cameos just yet.
“Now I have to stay [in defense], that’s for sure!” he laughed. “Maybe in the midfield I play much worse and cannot create chances or shoot goals. I feel good in [center-back] and will stay with my Honduran brother [Victor Bernardez].”
Yet increased movement in the middle meant he could venture forward on the ball and involve himself in the attack from defense. “All the players created spaces for others today, two or three times for me,” he said. “If Darwin [Ceren] can drop back in the midfield, then I can have space and if we move a lot then it’s difficult to defend. “
“It’s a skill for me to play good balls, we practice them so often in training. I know if Marco [Ureña] goes deep on the right side, I know there is a striker in the middle. It is not random that we score a goal like this.”
Coach Dominic Kinnear concurred, saying: “The thing we want from Florian if he does have time to with the ball is to continue to drift into space because we think he’s a good soccer player. He and Victor (Bernardez) were both very good tonight. Fanendo Adi is more than a handful, and I thought Victor’s performance was strong. It was something we needed from him tonight, and Florian stepping into the midfield with the ball was a benefit for us on a couple of occasions.”
In addition to his offensive contributions, the German defender also shut down Portland target man Fanendo Adi with the aid of Bernardez, whose physicality could match the forward’s 6’4” stature. “I think [Adi] was a bit scared of Victor, so he came over to my side,” Jungwirth smiled.
Ten games into the season, the defender is already a fan favorite and defensive lynchpin. With the encouragement of reporters after the match, he’s also continued to expand his Quakes lingo. “I played hella good tonight,” he laughed.
PHOTO: ISI Photos