The San Jose Earthquakes are suffering a tough time as their 2018 season comes crashing down. But there are answers to be found amid the rubble.
The San Jose Earthquakes are having a rough season.
After Saturday night’s loss against LAFC, the Quakes are now 2-9-2, sitting second to last in the Western Conference standings with their chances of making the playoffs looking highly unlikely unless the team makes a dramatic turn around this summer.
The Quakes seemed to be snapping out of their funk in mid-May. A couple of well-earned road results in Minnesota and Vancouver appeared to be a sign of the club turning the corner. But those hopes were quickly dashed after what could very well be considered one of the most uninspired results in it’s Avaya stadium history, a 3-1 loss to last-place D.C. United on May 19th.
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Recent games have added to the frustration and inconsistency that has surrounded the team ever since the departure of former head coach Dominic Kinnear. A couple of close losses on the road in Chicago and LA only added pressure on the club and, despite the team competing well in both games, those results were added to recently being knocked out of the U.S. Open Cup in Portland. But the follies at home continued at Avaya last Saturday again with a 4-3 loss against LAFC. The match could very well be considered a prime example of the inconsistency the club has seen as of late — the Quakes demonstrated their newfound offensive swagger, but a leaky defense yet again led to the dropping of vital home points.
San Jose clearly has an offense with the capabilities of producing a playoff team — Magnus Erikson, Danny Hoesen and Chris Wondolowski have all proven to be more than enough to carry the Quakes over the red line. But the orchestration of a new backline has been what’s kept the team from fulfilling their potential. The loss of Victor Bernardez and Marvell Wynne is clearly an aspect, but one can’t help but feel the ironic contrast from last year’s playoff side.
While the Quakes barely were able to sneak into the last playoff spot in 2017, the defensive problems that are amounting this year were nowhere to be seen. Last year’s Quakes team had the opposite problems of this year: a sturdy backline, and consistent one-nil results, is what carried the side in 2017, but this season a productive offense is being harshly contrasted by a concerningly leaky backline that has resulted in vital points being dropped.
These are undoubtedly the most tumultuous of times that San Jose has faced since it’s move to Avaya, and for a club that has struggled to find it’s identity ever since the dissipation of the famed “goonies” team of 2012, one has to start asking the question if the sacking of club legends Dominic Kinnear and John Doyle after a 2017 in which they led the club to the playoffs for the first time since 2012 was really the right call.
New head coach Mikael Stahre has held his own for being a new manager in a new league, but the constant remodeling that has been occuring year after year in San Jose hasn’t resulted in a consistent side with a solid identity, which is what it’s supporters long for. The rest of 2018 calls for consistency from the Quakes, and if the end of the season results in the team missing the playoffs, where do we go from here? Another new head coach? A new team identity? What’re the ends to the means here?
The 2018 season will hopefully lead to the answers the Quakes are looking for. But in being a small market team that has made the playoffs once in the past five seasons, the key is going to be whether or not those answers lie in rebranding and reshaping or if they lie in consistency and commitment. That, for the Quakes, will be quite the revelation.