In this week’s newsletter: Portland party, expected-goals analysis and more insider coverage of the San Jose Earthquakes!
A 3-0 triumph over the Portland Timbers on Saturday night was a massive shock for San Jose Earthquakes fans. Three unanswered goals made it their largest margin of victory at Avaya Stadium and their biggest victory over the Portland Timbers in the MLS era, a cathartic performance for a team that, on average, scores fewer than a goal-a-game.
Perhaps, however, it wasn’t all that unexpected. The innovative statistical tool, Expected Goals (a complex stat but a rather self-explanatory concept), shows us that the Quakes have actually been due a few goals this season. Dominic Kinnear’s men have a total expected goals value of 14.51 according to American Soccer Analysis data but have only scored twelve, making them the third most “wasteful” team in the league.
Saturday night’s result, however, was a most promising aberration from the norm.
Finding his Flo: Jungwirth notches two assists in 3-0 Portland thumping
Photo Gallery: Quakes 3-0 Portland Timbers
Chris Wondolowski: Cascadia Killer
Two clinical finishes on Saturday night took Chris Wondolowski’s career tally to ten goals in thirteen games against the Portland Timbers, more than any other Major League Soccer player. With an additional twenty-two goals against the Vancouver Whitecaps and Seattle Sounders, he has quite the knack for netting against Cascadian sides.
Why, you might ask? “I have no idea,” he said post-game.
The Quakes, for one, aren’t complaining about the statistical anomaly. Wondo also notched an assist for Jahmir Hyka, his fifth of the season, and has been involved in nine of twelve Quakes goals so far this season.
It flew under the radar, but Wondolowski noted after the team’s 1-0 victory over Minnesota United last week that they set up in a 4-2-3-1 instead of Kinnear’s traditional 4-4-2, signaling the captain’s shift into a deeper playmaking role. Kinnear’s tactical experiments are often met with a healthy dose of skepticism, but two goals later, this switch certainly paid off against Portland, as evident in their passing maps.
With full-backs Kofi Sarkodie and Cordell Cato pushing so high up the wings, wide midfielders Jahmir Hyka and Danny Hoesen were essentially given free reign to sew chaos through the Portland defense and combine with Wondolowski and Marco Ureña. The result was a dominant, dynamic performance highlighted by their verve and fluidity in the midfield and a hitherto unseen sophistication to their play.
Between his box-to-box performances and bubbly (might we add, “hilarious”) demeanor, Florian Jungwirth has quickly established himself as a Quakes fan favorite. He introduced a new Flo-ism this past week, #AvayaCastle, and quickly set about defending the fortress with two assists against Portland to keep the Quakes undefeated at home this season.
What They Said
Coach Dominic Kinnear: “It was a good 90 minutes. We were focused. Obviously, when you look across the hallway (at Portland) you understand we were playing a good attacking team with good options, so you can’t let your guard down at all. They had some moments where they were controlling the game and had chances, but I thought overall we were good on both sides of the ball. Good performances, good goals and a great three points for us.”
Defender Florian Jungwirth: “All the players created spaces for others today, two or three times for me. 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.”
Goalscorer Chris Wondolowski: “It was one of those games you really love playing in. It was nice to really click, especially offensively, and see the final result. We had a lot of confidence coming into this game and felt we really took advantage of that.”
Fatai Alashe didn’t feature against the Timbers, his first absence of the season. The twenty-three-year-old has previously been a midfield mainstay for the Quakes under Dominic Kinnear but lost his midfield starting spot to Darwin Ceren after being dropped into center-back to cover for Victor Bernardez earlier in the season.
The move was originally met with many admirers, a center-back role suiting his defensively-oriented attributes. However, numerous costly errors allowed Victor Bernardez to retake his starting position and a second straight clean sheet alongside Florian Jungwirth makes it unlikely that will change. Now that Ceren’s established a promising partnership with Anibal Godoy in the midfield, we predict Alashe will struggle to reassert himself in the starting lineup.
THE WEEK AHEAD
The Quakes face the Colorado Rapids next Saturday at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City with an excellent opportunity to win back-to-back road games for the first time since 2015. Having defeated expansion team Minnesota United 1-0 last week to end their nine-game winless streak away from home, they should expect victory against the bottom team in MLS next weekend. The Rapids have not a single victory since their first game of the season, earning a meager four points from their first eight matches. Pablo Mastroeni’s men have only scored five goals in the process and points like these seem like low hanging fruit if the Quakes seek to build upon their momentum.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
— Colin Etnire (@ColinEtnire) May 7, 2017
AFTERSHOCKS: FROM THE WEEK’S NEWS
MLSSoccer.com: What expected goals can tell us about Houston and San Jose
SJEarthquakes.com: Remembering the late Mike Mesaros, leader of the 1974 Quakes
Quakes After 90: The Minnesota Slumpbuster
The Soccer Hour with Ted Ramey: 5/3
SJEarthquakes.com: 90+ Featuring Quincy Amarikwa and Fatai Alashe
SJEarthquakes.com: Quakes and Answers: What was your first job?
TRUCKEE TALK: RENO 1868 UPDATE
Reno 1868 earned their first ever USL victory in a 4-0 demolition of Didier Drogba’s Pheonix Rising FC courtesy of a Dane Kelly hat-trick. Quakes loanee Lindo Mfeka tallied two assists on the night while Matt Bersano (GK), Kip Colvey (LB), and Jackson Yueill (MF) also started. Ian Russell’s men will next face the Seattle Sounders 2 on May 20th in Reno.
The Quakes academy swept the board across all age groups this past weekend, notching twenty-nine goals and allowing seven in nine wins and a draw. In addition, eight current and former academy players (Adra Bulut, Res Dorwart, Cristopher Grey, Hector Herrera, Elisama Padilla, Andrew Paoli, Marcus Simmons, Ivan Valencia) were announced as early season roster additions to the club’s PDL affiliate the Burlingame Dragons. Academy defender JJ Foe Nuphaus, who most recently enjoyed a short stint in Germany with Hoffenheim, is also on the squad.
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PHOTO: ISI Photos UPDATED: This article was updated to reflect the status of Quakes academy players