It’s time to breakdown predictions and expectations for the San Jose Earthquakes
The San Jose Earthquakes are now 6 games removed from the MLS is Back Tournament, and now it’s time to review my predictions for them (paraphrased below) and reassess where this club is at the moment (spoiler alert: it’s not good).
8/29 at LA Galaxy
Going into this game, it remained unclear what version of the Galaxy to expect when traveling to Carson. They were awful in the MLS is Back Tournament and Mexican soccer icon Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez had yet to hit the ground running (or be 100% healthy). However, they recorded a stunning 2-0 win over LAFC to inflict some minor revenge on their crosstown rivals.
The Quakes needed to be assertive and test this defense and backline (which they did), and while it won’t be an easy win, this is a game they could likely get 3 points from. They were in position to do so, but San Jose collapsed in the second half and San Francisco native Sebastian Lletget scored the game-winner for the high-flying Galaxy.
Prediction: 2-1 win
Result: 3-2 loss (At least I predicted the number of goals San Jose scored in this fixture correctly)
9/2 at LAFC
Along with Minnesota United, LAFC has been the toughest nut to crack during the Almeyda era. Even without a potentially injured Carlos Vela, an attack featuring Brian Rodriguez, Diego Rossi, and Bradley Wright-Phillips remained a daunting proposition.
Sometimes MLS is a game of rock-paper-scissors, and just because scissors (LAFC) keep losing to rock (LA Galaxy), that doesn’t mean it won’t still cut paper. That proved to be the case in emphatic fashion. Diego Rossi may be linked away from Major League Soccer, but not without leaving a trail of devastated defenders and goalkeepers on the way out if that’s the case.
Prediction: 3-1 loss
Result: 5-1 loss (2 for 2 on the goals scored by San Jose correctly, but still an awful start for the club)
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9/5 hosting Colorado Rapids
Of these six games, the Colorado Rapids appeared to be the most beatable opponent. Beatable does not mean a guaranteed 3 points, as no such thing exists.
Jonathan Lewis is one of their most talented players, having scored a goal against Sporting Kansas City when his team was down two men. I expected a close game, but surely the Quakes could beat the Rapids at home. Wasn’t to be.
Prediction: 1-0 win
Result: 1-1 draw (so close to getting this one right, but the Quakes blew it in the end).
9/10 at Seattle Sounders
A much needed 5-day break preceded a rematch against the 2019 MLS Cup Winners Seattle Sounders, who potentially had a chip on their shoulder following their crushing elimination from the MLS is Back Tournament at the hands of LAFC.
Despite that loss, the Sounders still boast the formidable attacking trio of Nicolas Lodeiro, Raul Ruidiaz, and Jordan Morris. Though the San Jose Earthquakes played well against the Sounders in Group B, playing against them in CenturyLink Field, even if it is empty, is a different beast so I went into this game expecting the worst. Even then, I couldn’t have been ready for the scoreline that occurred.
Prediction: 2-1 loss
Result: 7-1 loss (Utter destruction by the Sounders)
9/13 hosting LA Galaxy
This Bay Area-based clash against the 5-time MLS Cup champions would feel significantly different, as the Galaxy are usually forced to contend with loud home support filling up Stanford Stadium, the setting for some of the league’s most memorable games throughout its 25-year history.
This would be a big test to see how mentally strong the San Jose Earthquakes are coming off a difficult game against the Sounders. In reality, they did show some of that strength recovering from a 7-1 loss to avoid defeat in this fixture. However, the next time these two clubs meet, don’t expect Javier Hernandez and Jonathan dos Santos to come off the bench.
Prediction: 3-2 win
Result: 0-0 draw (I’ll take it given the Sounders result!)
9/16 hosting Portland Timbers
Coming off their MLS is Back Tournament victory, the Portland Timbers were viewed as one of the best teams in the league. This was an anticipated but nerve-inducing matchup that ended up being delayed due to the protests following the shooting Jacob Blake protests. Despite the massive shift in where this game fell on the schedule, it felt like the Quakes were capable of holding their own against the Pacific Northwest Club. It played out that way.
Prediction: 1-1 Draw
Result: 1-1 Draw (At least I got one right)
Based on these predictions, the San Jose Earthquakes would obtain 10 out of a possible 18 points from these six games. Not a bad haul considering the pedigree of opposition that lurked at every corner in this fixture list. It all depended on whether or not they could replicate their success from reaching the quarterfinals of the MLS is Back Tournament earlier in the summer.
3 measly points out of 18, and it could have been worse. That is a scary analysis he the Seattle Seahawks, sorry SOUNDERS, scored a touchdown in one of those games. The San Jose Earthquakes sit at the bottom of the Western Conference and have the worst goal difference in Major League Soccer. Yes, even worse than FC Cincinnati.
These are dark days for Bay Area soccer fans, and the next 3 games won’t get any easier. The Quakes get Portland at home 9/19, then they fly to Colorado to face the Rapids 4 days later. Four days after that, a dreaded rematch against LAFC in SoCal awaits. If San Jose is to mount a playoff challenge (finishing even in 8th place will suffice this year), they need to win one of these three games and draw another MINIMUM. However, my predictions are as follows
Earthquakes 1-2 Timbers
Rapids 0-0 Earthquakes
LAFC 3-0 Earthquakes
The biggest flaw for the Earthquakes is they cannot put 90 minutes together. There’s either an issue offensively or defensively, often both. Not to mention they sold Magnus Eriksson to Djurgårdens in August and did not bring anyone else into the club. The current personnel at San Jose Earthquakes are likable players. Any Quakes fan would love to have a beer with any of them, even Daniel Vega despite the headaches he caused throughout this season. But that doesn’t mean this group is a playoff-caliber team. Prove me wrong. Until then, nothing changes.