Following a hard-fought 0-0 draw in Austin FC’s home opener, San Jose Earthquakes fans hoped they could grind out another positive result against Orlando City. It wouldn’t be easy with the two games being just three days apart and Orlando City being a stronger side. Also while a road draw is decent, San Jose remained in a five-game winless streak (spoiler alert, now it’s six). Worst case scenario, Nani and Daryl Dike prove too much to handle and win by a 2 goal margin, right? Wrong. Just another case of deja vu the Earthquakes have been in for almost nine years. Any sort of optimism that was gained in Texas was demolished in Florida.
The aforementioned Nani and Dike scored 3 of the 5 goals in the 5-0 smashing of San Jose Earthquakes, with Benji Michel contributing the other two. The rain delay near the end of the first half did little to wash away the struggles. Following that result, the Lions are second in the Eastern Conference, just a point behind the New England Revolution. Orlando City have the third-highest points haul in all of Major League Soccer behind the Revs and Seattle Sounders. San Jose Earthquakes at their peak are a borderline playoff side, but in this bad run of form, they look closer to Wooden Spoon recipients than playoff participants.
That doesn’t excuse this result. It doesn’t even come close.
Expecting a manager to fix every problem on his own is idealistic, but Matías Almeyda has had the time to implement his tactics and bring in players of his choice. San Jose’s ownership isn’t the biggest spenders of the league, but there still have been a number of signings made, most of whom have worked with Almeyda at previous stops in his managerial career. When they went on a horrid run of form in August and September of 2020, including a 7-1 loss to the Sounders, that was supposed to be the wakeup call. The turning point to awake from the nightmarish cycle because the fans demanded change.
Since then, any changes that have occurred have been minimal, coincidental, and insufficient. A near decade-long case of deja vu.
Following the 2012 Supporters Shield achievement, San Jose Earthquakes have lost in the first round of all three of their MLS Cup Playoff appearances. Heavy defeats have been followed by managerial changes, but not changes in ownership strategy, team building composition, or making big moves in the transfer market. Despite being at the heart of California’s Silicon Valley and therefore not an unreasonable alternative for star players to live compared to Los Angeles, the biggest names to come to Northern California have been replacement level starters from Liga MX side Chivas. Every transfer window brings back this deja vu feeling as their southern rivals continue to attract more exciting players.
Losing 5-0 should be a shock to the system, but it’s just the same old story for one of the founding clubs of Major League Soccer. With a passionate fanbase that has supported this club through thick and thin, they’ve built up the courage to have any sort of expectations once some positive momentum has achieved, such as the late push to reach the playoffs in 2020. Now it’s just pure disappointment following another inadequate transfer window and key players underperforming.
For those involved with the USMNT, it has been more of the same, with JT Marcinkowski and Jackson Yueill being part of the U-23 roster that once again failed to qualify for the Olympics, and the latter being one of the scapegoats following an uninspiring performance against Honduras in the CONCACAF Nations League. Despite that setback, Yueill and 17-year-old Cade Cowell (one of many young talented players in the squad) are on the preliminary Gold Cup roster. So far for Peru, Marcos López has performed admirably. If San Jose Earthquakes can’t get their act together, these players will face more pressure to perform at the international level to keep getting callups, or will have to change clubs. Which would be more bad news for Quakes fans.
All we can do is hope that something is figured out so Chris Wondolowski can finish the final season of his career on a positive note, knowing that his loyalty to the club is as appreciated by his employers as it is by the supporters. For now, the nightmare continues. LA Galaxy look set to next play the role of grim reaper as another California Clasico fixture looms, and a packed crowd at Paypal Park will attend expecting the worst but hoping for the best. Even a win (which would be their first since early May) against their rivals will not be sufficient to break this feeling of deja vu. Only consistency and a culture change can do that.