Real Salt Lake face the San Jose Earthquakes at Avaya Stadium tonight. Oz Lucero of Center Line Soccer answered our questions ahead of this western conference clash.
San Jose Earthquakes have been much improved over 2018, to what do you contribute their success?
Matias de Jesus Almeyda. The transformation of the Quakes would not have been so sudden without the Argentinian manager. He took a roster that was mostly the same as last season which was one of the worst in MLS history and turned the team into a playoff contender. His ability to get the best out of his players has been a key to this seasons success, and he has been able to take a roster that is not very strong by MLS standards and has them competing with some of the higher spending teams in the league. He also revitalized/saved the career of several players on the Quakes roster. The question now becomes, will the league adapt to the Quakes playing style and cool down their hot streak.
Cristian Espinoza also deserves a shout-out as he not only has been the best Quakes player statistically, but he is one of the best around the league with not much talk nationally about him.
The Earthquakes suffers a 3-1 in Minnesota on Wednesday, what went wrong in that game and what do they need to do in order to get a win at home on Saturday?
The Quakes played like they were tired after playing their third match in seven games with another one on the horizon. That is not to take anything away from Minnesota, who is a legitimately good team, and they deserve credit for playing a clean game at home and earning a valuable three points. My concern when I saw the style of soccer that Matias Almeyda wanted to play where “everybody runs, and everybody plays” was whether the team as a whole had the fitness to play 34 matches in such a demanding style. This last week has shown that maybe this team doesn’t quite have the depth yet to be considered a real contender.
For the Quakes to win on Saturday, they need to get back to playing the style of soccer that has been working these last couple of months. The system was beaten on Wednesday, but I don’t think any glaring weaknesses were exposed, so if the Quakes continue to have patience and trust themselves they should go back to having success on the pitch. RSL is also not a particularly strong team on the road not having won a road match since May 11. They have also given up two or more goals six times on the road this season, so Chris Wondolowski and friends have a chance to get back on track this weekend.
Chris Wondolowski is now the league leader for most ever goals, what has he meant to this club and fanbase? Who replaces him when he’s injured or rested?
Chris Wondolowski has been the heart and soul of this organization for a long time. A lot of people around the country know about his success on the pitch, but most that don’t live in Northern California are not aware of how great a person he is off the field. He is a real role model regardless of the success or records, and that is what makes him even more special in the eyes of Quakes fans.
Danny Hoesen is the man to back up Wondo when he is not available. Vako has not been getting much playing time up until recently, but with his salary, he cannot be expected to be Wondo’s backup. Hoesen is an excellent option who can score 10+ goals a season but hasn’t had the consistency to be a weekly starter.
Bonus question: The LA Galaxy away kit this season has a strong Earthquakes feel to it ⏤ how do Quakes fans feel about that?
For the most part, I don’t think Quakes fans think about the fashion choices of the Galaxy, but it doesn’t surprise me that they took something that got popular in San Jose and claimed it as their own. Kind of like Landon Donovan, Joe Cannon, David Bingham, etc., etc.