'Quakes' winless streak at 11 after 2-1 loss


'Quakes' winless streak at 11 after 2-1 loss

Nicholas Rosano

It all seemed to be going right as Joey Gjertsen pounced toopen the scoring in the 22nd minute on Saturday evening -- theEarthquakes had their first lead in over three games and the teams flickeringplayoff hopes seemed to be gaining some kindling. However, two blows of thewhistle later, and the Earthquakes found themselves in a big hole and a mandown, unable to break through once more as the Colorado Rapids sent them to afranchise-record 11th straight winless game, coming out 2-1 victors. I thought we played well. For some reason were not gettingthe breaks, but we cant give up, head coach Frank Yallop said following thegame. We put in a good effort and to come out with no points isdisappointing. The Earthquakes looked bright throughout large stretches ofthe game, though their profligacy in front of goal was further compounded bytwo controversial decisions from referee Paul Ward on either side of halftime. In the 39th minute, Ward awarded a penalty afterconsultation with his linesman, the assistant referee having adjudged that SamCronins arm had made contact with the ball in the penalty as he slid out ofplay. Colorados Caleb Folan calmly slotted the penalty past Jon Busch toequalize for the Rapids. Things went from bad to worse for Cronin in the 50thminute, as the midfielder saw red for a two-footed challenge on PabloMastroeni, prompting a less than favorable reaction from the Earthquakes fansand players. Jeff Larentowicz would soon hammer the nail in the Quakescoffin when he whipped in a free kick, which somehow found its way through thelegs of Simon Dawkins and past Jon Busch in the 72nd minute. Unfortunately it went through Simons (Dawkins) legs, Buschsaid. We know hes just going to hit it hard, hes not going to bend it.Busch then conceded while things may have broken down onthat play, the type of goal was symptomatic of the struggles the team has beenhaving lately. I take care of my side and the wall takes care of theirside and unfortunately, on a different night, the ball doesnt go in but thatshow the ball is bouncing for us right now, he said. Despite everything that didnt bounce the Earthquakes waythough, they didnt always do much to help their cause. While their play wasbright, the quality of finishing didnt always match, perhaps no more so thanwhen Gjertsen slotted a well-placed ball in for Chris Wondolowski, only for thereigning Golden Boot winner to balloon it over the crossbar with the score at1-1. Wondo couldve scored four goals but he didnt, Yallopsaid. You cant fault the man for getting into spots to score. He was braveand had good chances. However, with chances rapidly running out for theEarthquakes to claim a berth in the postseason and the winless skid continuing,the missed goals are starting to become more and more glaring. With seven ofthe last ten games on the road, the loss to Colorado represented a significantblow, capping off a crucial home stand that saw the Earthquakes claim just oneout of nine points on offer.With the team facing a trip to face league leaders andrivals Los Angeles Galaxy next weekend, followed by a cross-continental trip toToronto the following weekend, it is indeed difficult to envy the teamsposition. Still, Busch highlighted his sides resilient spirit, reminding thoselistening that the team was not quite done yet. Its never too late when you havent been officiallyeliminated, he said. We just have to pick ourselves up again and dustourselves off and start to prepare for LA.For more Earthquakes, MLS and world soccer musings,you can follow Nick Rosano on Twitter @nicholasrosano

Quakes look to regroup after disappointing 2016 season


Quakes look to regroup after disappointing 2016 season

This time last year, there was a totally different kind of disappointment over at San Jose Earthquakes headquarters. Yes, they had missed the playoffs for the third consecutive season, but they battled to the very end and came within a couple of points of earning an invitation to the dance.

That sort of late-season run filled the franchise and fans with optimism heading into 2016.

But after an 8-12-14 mark, a ninth place finish in the Western Conference that tied for the worst since their return to MLS and the firing of a general manager midseason, the Quakes are a team faced with the idea of having to stop backwards momentum and restore faith with a fan base that is antsy for a winner on the field.

MVP: Chris Wondolowski fits the truest definition of valuable for the Earthquakes. Off the field, the forward continued and expanded his role of face and ambassador for the franchise. You’d be hard pressed to find another MLS player who exemplifies their club more than Wondolowski.

On the field, it’s almost cringe-worthy to think of where the Quakes would be without Wondolowski. As expected, for yet another season, he led the team in goals with 12 and was fourth in assists -- but his numbers are amplified by a San Jose offense that finished last in MLS with just 32 goals scored this season.

And most importantly, an offense that already struggled to find the back of the net would take an even greater (and incredibly visible) hit when Wondolowski was not in the lineup playing for the U.S. Men’s National Team, or just flat out struggling – consider that in the months when Wondolowski did not score, whether on international duty or not, the Quakes only managed 12 of the possible 36 points and scored two or more goals in a single match just three times.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: A few names come to mind, but with a back line that was ravaged by injuries peppered throughout the season, Marvell Wynne demonstrated the versatility and consistency the Quakes desperately needed. Wynne played all along Dominic Kinnear’s back line, logging the fourth-most minutes on the team behind two other DPOY candidates in David Bingham and Victor Bernardez, plus the aforementioned Wondolowski.

San Jose will have a tough choice to make with Wynne in the offseason with his contract up and a well-deserved raise in the cards -- but his age and its value proposition comes into question. Yet in 2016, Wynne was a lifeline for the Quakes.

BEST OF TIMES: With just eight wins this season, there weren’t a ton of bright spots for the Quakes. But they earned a huge moral victory for northern California soccer when they hosted the MLS All-Star Game.

For a week, San Jose, Silicon Valley and Avaya Stadium was the center of the MLS universe as the stars convened on Coleman Avenue to celebrate the sport.

WORST OF TIMES: It seems pretty crazy to remember that the Quakes actually got off to the best start in franchise history when they won back-to-back games for their first 2-0-0 start ever and a strong 3-1-2 record through their first six matches.

But injuries to the back line and up front (see: Quincy Amarikwa), made thing very difficult for Kinnear to put his best 11 on the field consistency.

Those injuries, coupled with San Jose’s inability to find any sort of traction or winning consistency away from Avaya Stadium really put the season on the down slope. The Quakes only won one road match in 2016.

THE GREAT UNKNOWN: Currently, the Quakes are a team without a general manager. And for a team that obviously needs a couple of pieces, the sooner they hand the reins to someone, the better.

The Earthquakes hired Nolan Partners, the world's largest sports executive search firm, to help identify the club's next GM while technical director Chris Leitch currently fills that void.

According to the Quakes, Nolan Partners will conduct the search both domestically and internationally, using a strict set of criteria to find the best candidates in line with the organization's long-term aspirations.

The clock is ticking though.


Not to sound overly dramatic with the one-word paragraphs, but with just 32 goals this season, and a formula dependent so much on just one player, the Quakes have to hit the drawing board hard and look to add a couple of pieces to make them more competitive up front.

A full offseason with Simon Dawkins could be beneficial – so should the resigning of Alberto Quintero.

But finding a true No. 9 to play in front of Wondolowski and allow the master to roam free underneath where he can do major damage would go a long way in making a much-needed ascent up the offensive categories.

THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS: For those who have resigned themselves to the idea of San Jose being a big-market, high-budget team, the focus has naturally shifted to the youth movement that should follow. The Quakes have taken steps towards that with affiliation deals in the Premier Development League (Burlingame Dragons FC) and the United Soccer League (Sacramento Republic and Reno 1868) to look and develop the next wave of Earthquakes.

The big picture revolves around when the Quakes decide to flip the switch and fully commit to young talent coming through that pipeline. In 2016, San Jose was one of the oldest teams in MLS – could 2017 be the start of the long-awaited Quakes youth movement?

After best start in franchise history, Quakes' rough season ends on low note


After best start in franchise history, Quakes' rough season ends on low note


A San Jose Earthquakes season that began with the best start in franchise history ended on Sunday with an all-too-familiar result and feeling.

A Sporting Kansas City first half penalty shot and 89th minute-goal was more than enough offense to finish the Quakes' season on a low note in what was a 2-0 loss at Children's Mercy Park in Kansas City.

The Earthquakes finished the 2016 campaign with an 8-14-12 record -- their 12 losses are tied for second most since returning to San Jose after a two-year hiatus in 2008.

The shutout is also the 12th the Quakes suffered this season and San Jose has now missed the playoffs four straight years.

San Jose pressed Sporting Kansas City in the first half and was almost rewarded with a goal on both occasions.

But it was Kansas City who made the most of their opportunities and those don’t come much better than a penalty shot. 

Benny Feilhaber stepped up to the spot in the 27th minute after an awkward bounce hit Cordell Cato in the arm, forcing the referee to call for the penalty. Feilhaber beat David Bingham to the keeper's left for his seventh goal of the season.

The second half was noteworthy for its chippiness more than any real threat by San Jose to try and equalize. Referee Drew Fischer handed out five yellow cards in the half -- three to the Quakes. 

Sporting KC left the game way beyond reach for San Jose when Feilhaber found a streaking Dominic Dwyer on the right side who emphatically finished past Bingham for the 2-0 result. 

Man of the Match: Feilhaber gave San Jose fits the entire match and the Quakes had no answers for the midfielder. Feilhaber and Dwyer almost connected on a couple of other occasions that might have made the result worse for the Quakes. 

Attendance: 20,371 watched Sporting KC advance to the MLS Cup playoffs. 

Up Next: It's back to the drawing board for the Quakes who will reconvene in Tucson next season for preseason camp.