In this week’s newsletter: Outfoxed in Portland, Fox in at San Jose, and more insider coverage of the San Jose Earthquakes!
The San Jose Earthquakes were cunningly outmaneuvered in a disappointing road defeat to the Portland Timbers on Friday night, but they weren’t to remain outfoxed for long. Despite their lackluster performances on the pitch, the match was overshadowed by the club’s promising new front-office initiative in the hiring of new President Tom Fox.
The news that Dave Kaval was stepping down from the Presidency to focus on the Oakland A’s was first reported by Quakes Forever and the San Jose Mercury News and officially confirmed by the Quakes on Thursday, with former Arsenal and Aston Villa executive Fox lined up to take the top seat.
Fox will be welcomed to San Jose in an introductory press conference at Avaya Stadium at 11am on Tuesday, which is open to season ticket holders, and these are our three biggest questions heading into his reign in San Jose:
How will Fox approach DPs?
Dave Kaval’s parting promise to Quakes fans was to sign a Designated Player this summer and the onus will be on Fox to follow through with that pledge. General Manager Jesse Fioranelli has spent the spring building a promising scouting staff to lead the search, but any high-profile signing would presumably have to fit under Fox’s mandate as well as the American’s approach to DPs will likely be a defining facet of his Presidency.
Will Fox connect with the fan base?
Kaval was particularly keen on fan engagement in his tenure in San Jose, encouraging an open dialogue with fans through social media and open office hours. However, Fox comes from a wildly different setting in the Premier League, where executives are locked away high up in VIP stadium boxes. The fifty three-year-old’s lack of soccer pedigree formed a disconnect with Villa fans in his ill-fated tenure with the Lions and his approach to fan engagement is a concern heading into his Quakes reign, especially given the club’s tumultuous relationship with the San Jose Ultras.
What will change?
After four years without a playoff appearance, Quakes fans are itching for change on and off the pitch, and Fox’s success will hinge upon how aggressively he pushes to move the Quakes past the settling-in stage at Avaya Stadium, particularly in key areas such as on-the-field-product and the club’s proposed Academy complex.
Outfoxed in Portland
No Party in Portland
The Quakes demolished Portland 3-0 in a dazzling performance last month, but there were no such fireworks this time around. The Quakes have never won in MLS play at Providence Park and a sluggish performance on Friday did nothing to change that. The visitors were woefully languid in a sloppy first half and a controversial red card for Darwin Ceren condemned them to their second straight loss despite a promising rally in the second half.
Center-backs Florian Jungwirth and Victor Bernardez are yet to form a reliable partnership at the back, with Jungwirth’s tendency to overplay the ball costing the Quakes dearly in the case of Diego Valeri’s opener on Friday night. Despite a strong performance from rookie Nick Lima, who came to Jungwirth’s rescue on numerous occasions with last-ditch tackles, the ten-man Quakes couldn’t keep a clean sheet when they needed to bunker down the most.
The Quakes were far too divided in the offense, which isolated Marco Ureña up top as Chris Wondolowski dropped deeper into the middle to collect the ball. Danny Hoesen and Jahmir Hyka were also unusually anonymous, notching some of their worst possession stats of the season.
What They Said
Coach Dominic Kinnear: “We had some good chances, even with 10 men. [Chris Wondolowski] Wondo gets a chance, cleared off the line. Tommy [Thompson] has a good chance, gets blocked. We had some good looks. We kept plugging away. I’ll give the guys credit for their heart and determination. Playing with 10 men. It’s a tough place to play, even with 11.”
Forward Chris Wondolowski: ”Portland’s a good team. I want to credit them for the win. But yeah, any time you go down a man, especially here in Portland where it’s already a very tough place to play and the crowd is boisterous, it’s a turning point. I don’t want to say it’s the reason, but it’s a big play.”
Historically, the Quakes have been very poor in the US Open Cup but we predict they’ll defeat the SF Deltas on Wednesday and make a run at the Cup this year. Aided by their newfound depth, many of last year’s starters are this year’s substitutes that will be able to lead the Quakes into the latter stages of the competition.
THE WEEK AHEAD
The Quakes have a much-needed by-week to recuperate from Friday night’s loss, although five players will remain in action for their respective national teams. Reno 1868 loanee Kip Colvey travels to Russia to play for New Zealand in the Confederations Cup, while Shaun Francis, Anibal Godoy, and Marco Ureña lace up for Panama, Jamaica, and Costa Rica respectively.
These international call-ups will be absent for the Quakes’ US Open Cup meeting with NASL side the SF Deltas next Wednesday and will return to the squad to face Sporting Kansas City at Avaya Stadium on June 17th.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
— Thomas Viola (@TVatHome) June 4, 2017
AFTERSHOCKS: FROM THE WEEK’S NEWS
San Jose Mercury News: Earthquakes hire EPL executive as new president
Transfermarkt: San Jose interested in Darmstadt’s Marcel Heller
World Soccer Talk: San Jose-LA Galaxy scores best MLS TV viewing audience of 2017 thus far
The Dick & Vic Soccer Hour: Aftermath at the Epicenter
Goonie Time Radio: My own worst enemy?
#QuincyTime Vlog: Episode 1
MLS All-Star Voting
Nominate your own San Jose Earthquakes players for the 2017 MLS All-Star Game against Real Madrid here. Fans can vote once per day.
TRUCKEE TALK: RENO 1868 UPDATE
Reno 1868 fell 2-0 to USL rivals Sacramento Republic in the Third Round of the US Open Cup last Wednesday, ending their six matches unbeaten streak. Ian Russell’s men will seek to regain their momentum against the Rio Grande Valley on Wednesday night and will also have a chance to avenge their Open Cup loss in a USL rematch against Sacramento on Saturday night.
The younger Quakes Academy teams went undefeated over the weekend, with the successful U-12 teams closing out their seasons with two wins and two draws. The U-13 and U-14 teams also defeated the Marin FC Alliance by an aggregate score of 7-1 and will end their seasons against the San Joaquin Valley Soccer Academy next weekend. However, there was less promising news for the U-18s, who lost out the final wildcard spot in the playoffs to the LA Galaxy Academy.
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