Streak Is Over: Quakes Hold Off Rapids 1-0
The San Jose Earthquakes ended their 6-match winless run in MLS (9-match in all competitions) with an unspectacular but solid effort against the Colorado Rapids, riding a 53rd minute header by Clarence Goodson off a superb Quincy Amarikwa cross to win 1-0.
While the Rapids managed to outpossess the Quakes 56-44, the hosts complteded more passes than usual (327) and worked incredibly hard, particularly Amarikwa and winger Shea Salinas. Goodson, making his return from an injury sustained in the Vancouver match, brought a tremendous amount of solidity to the defense in addition to his goal.
Here are some quick thoughts from the post-game reaction:
Godoy Was A Good Signing
Anibal Godoy almost didn't make the game for the Quakes due to a P-1 Visa issue, but he finally arrived at 10am this morning without having spent a minute training with the Quakes. He told Kinnear he felt ready to go and Kinnear sent him straight into the starting lineup, filling the void left by the suspended Fatai Alashe.
While there were moments of untidiness to be expected from a man who's never played with any of his teammates before, his performance was, on the whole, brilliant. He was a sideline-to-sideline enforcer, cutting out counter attacks and diagnosing opposition moves with the savvy of a CONCACAF veteran. His passing wasn't always on the same page of his teammates, but he largely played one-touch balls and was therefore never caught in possession.
He's a long, lanky athlete with an enforcers mentality and Thomas Muller-like short shin guards. It's easy to see him becoming a crowd favorite before too long.
...and so were Pelosi and Amarikwa
With the deals signed prior to deadline day, some fans forgot about the transfer dealings done earlier in the window.
Amarikwa was the principal spark on offense, finding tons of pockets of space and holding the ball up to allow others to join the attack. On a day where Chris Wondolowski didn't provide all that much danger, the Quakes other primary goalscorer picked up that load. Wondolowski's tackle, in fact, put the ball wide left where Amarikwa controlled it and clipped the far-post header for Goodson to dunk in for the game's only goal. His return of 4 goals in his short time with the Quakes is already greater than all other Quakes playing the #9 position combined.
Marc Pelosi, the other summer signing, came on in the 50th minute and made massive strides on his shaky performance against Houston last weekend. While there were still some sloppy fouls, he was playing the ball much more quickly and precisely than we've seen before, which represented almost the entirety of chance-creation the Quakes did for the last 40 minutes from open play. While he's not Matias Perez-Garcia's equal in those areas, he is quite a lot better as a tackler and defender from deeper areas, which allows Chris Wondolowski to get farther forward into goal-scoring positions. With an uncertain tactical setup to come, that will be an important role to play.
Injuries Continue to Haunt Quakes
The worst moment of the game came not from the run of play, but off the ball in the 25th minute when Jordan Stewart attempted to plant his foot and change direction only to go down as if from a gun shot, clutching his left ankle. He yelled out in pain and play quickly stopped as the trainers rushed on and signalled the need for a change. While there was no confirmation after the game about the severity or even type of injury, the mood in the locker room was downright somber about Stewart, with Goodson and Wondolowski using nearly-funereal language to describe how tough his loss felt. Stewart is not just the team's best left back, he's one of the team's best players and a major veteran leadership presence on the field and in the locker room.
Matias Perez-Garcia, who missed last week through injury, seemingly failed in his attempt to return. He played the first half at a jogging pace, the first moments of the second half at a walking pace, and went into the game at "50%" finess according to Kinnear after the match. He was pulled in the 50th minute for Pelosi. His hamstring issues have been continuous all year, so it's an open question whether or not he'll get back to 100% in time to make an impact on a stretch playoff run.
- Marvell Wynne failed to make the starting lineup for the first time in his Earthquakes career where he was available for selection. Kinnear refused to go into detail over his decision-making other than to applaud Wynne's professionalism, and Wynne was subbed on late for Sanna Nyassi
- Former Quake Sam Cronin wore the captains armband for the Rapids on the night
- Shaun Francis, who came on for Stewart, had a solid game in defense with composed clearances and decent marking. His product going forward lacked quality, and he's a major drop-off at the position, but he's looked better late in the season than in the beginning, and the Quakes will need to ride good performances on his part if they want to make the playoffs
- Adam Jahn was due to come on for Amarikwa late in the game, but the substitution was changed to Wynne on for Nyassi once Nyassi was clattered by Cronin