What does a match between two last place teams look like? It looks like what we saw on Sunday in San Jose. The Earthquakes dominated play but couldn’t finish while the Red Bulls looked absolutely awful in a 4-5-1 that set attacking soccer back about 10 years.
The performance would have been consider promising for San Jose if not for the huge mountain still to climb in the West standings. Playing well is all fine and dandy but every game San Jose failes to record three points is another shovel on the coffin of the Earthquakes’ 2008 season.
The Red Bulls are still very much alive in the East, if by pure math only. The Red Bulls just had no attack as the absence of Dane Richards left Juan Pablo Angel begging for some offensive support. None came though, well unless you count Eric Denton’s header own goal.
SBI correspondents Andrew Keh and Kevin Matthiessen took in the action and shared their thoughts with us.
A letter to Juan Pablo Angel
By ANDREW KEH
Dear Mr. Angel,
In the 87th minute of your team’s game against San Jose last Sunday, I saw you sink your head deep into the palms of your hands. Your shoulders were slouched. It was a portrait of plain despair.
Mr. Angel, we feel your pain.
Your teammate John Wolyniec had just made a magical run forward, slicing through the Earthquakes defense. He slipped a square pass to your colleague Mike Magee near the top of Earthquakes penalty area. Mr. Magee quickly closed in on the ball, which lingered dangerously in open space.
What a chance!, you must have thought, as you watched the play develop from just a few yards away. But the finish you and I and Red Bull fans around the world watching MSG+ hoped for never came. Mr. Magee jabbed a feathery shot toward goal that settled softly into the hands of San Jose’s goalkeeper Joe Cannon.
And that is when you looked like you might cry.
To be fair, Mr. Angel, you and your teammates probably did not deserve to be tied at that point in the game anyway. The pinnacle of your team’s offensive performance was a brief spell of insanity by one of your opponents, Eric Denton. What was he thinking? Did you by any chance get the chance to ask him while he and all of his teammates were guarding you?
Last season, other teams did not understand how much better you are than everybody else. They tried to guard you with just one person. Sometimes it was two people. But you scored 19 goals. This league is pretty easy!, you must have thought.
This year has not been the same, has it? Running on turf seems to have taken its toll on your limbs. And your friend Claudio Reyna left. That must have been sad. Most importantly, the team’s you guys play against have realized that if they surround you with defenders, they will probably win the game. And it’s worked!
On Sunday, the Earthquakes, one of the worst teams in your league, did just that. They didn’t win, but their new player, Darren Huckerby, looked pretty good didn’t he? I wish the new players on your team had looked that good.
If you’re reading this, Mr. Angel, the next time you see Jon Conway in practice, please give him a nice, big-brotherly pat on the back. It seems like he’s trying very hard.
Your Biggest Fan
Earthquakes showing signs of having an offense
By KEVIN MATTHIESSEN
This week instead of giving you, the SBI faithful, my sometimes eccentric and unique view of this week’s match, I thought I’d give you more of a collective view from ‘Quakes fans in general. I asked people how they felt after the game and thoroughly scoured the BigSoccer boards researching for the conveyance of this collective view.
While there are many differing perspectives on the game, there are some things that almost everyone agreed on. Darren Huckerby is awesome, day games suck, and not enough people know their soccer.
Though still not quite match fit, Darren Huckerby showed his class and skill while hustling up and down the field all day. He put himself in attacking positions all game and netted his first ever MLS goal. While everyone one else in the box was ball watching as Scott Sealy pounded a shot on goal, Huckerby was thinking and moving while anticipating the rebound and converted the tap in.
Huckerby could have bulged the old onion bag at least once more had Ryan Johnson a bit more awareness at one point in the second half. Johnson was getting closed down in the box, freeing up a wide-open Huckerby all alone in the box but instead Johnson sent in another of his many week efforts right at the keeper. You gotta love Johnson’s hustle but unfortunately he can’t shoot to save his life (or win the game). Side note: Is it just me or shouldn’t every pro soccer player be able to shoot with either foot?
Day games suck for many reasons. It’s hot, there’s no time to get ready for the game (and drink), and too many people have other commitments and just can’t make it. Our supporter’s groups gave it everything they could but the numbers just weren’t there. Personally, I found it harder to heckle with nary a drink in my belly and nowhere to hide. (I did muster up one doozy that made a few folks laugh in my section. I also enjoyed mimicking the words straight from the Bulls bench: "Keep it. Give it away. Keep it. Give it away." It’s no wonder they were confused.)
Not enough people know their soccer. Come on people. It’s pronounced "Nor-itch" not "Nor-wich" for goodness sakes. And I shouldn’t care what they call the Red Bulls players over the PA but it still made me cringe when they announced the substitute "Mike Maggy". Oh and I failed to mention last week’s color man calling our guy Hucker-berry. Oi veh! Know your soccer. Please!
All in all we collectively still have hopes and dreams for this season and are excited about the new acquisitions (including newly acquired Arturo Alvarez) but if we can’t make the playoffs this year, we’ll settle for a win versus LA next week.