The San Jose Earthquakes had one big thing going for them when they took on the New York Red Bulls Wednesday evening — they were on 10 days rest having last played a truly competitive match on July 10 in U.S. Open Cup action.
Unfortunately for the Quakes, they failed to take advantage of that in losing to the Red Bulls 5-1 — definitely not the return to the pitch they were hoping for.
Here are five takeaways from a Wednesday evening, lopsided loss to NYR.
— The Quakes had no answer for Sacha Kljestan. The Red Bulls midfielder, who frequented the U.S. Men’s National Team roster at one point, was not called to international duty for the ongoing FIFA Gold Cup and San Jose paid the price for that — the man finessed the Quakes to death on Wednesday evening, factoring in three New York goals with his use of spacing in the Red Bulls midfield.
— There were a couple of big debuts for San Jose. First, newly signed designated player Valeri Qazaishvili — who the MLS world is calling Vako — made his league debut when in he came as a substitute for Danny Hoesen at halftime. The Georgian native showed flashes with his early touch, but never really factored in the game until the 88th minute when he scored the Quakes’ lone goal on a volley tap courtesy of a nifty Jahmir Hyka cross. It’s a nice debut on the scoresheet, but San Jose is expecting DP-esque things from the Georgian.
— And second, welcome back, Quincy Amarikwa. The forward has been sidelined since September of 2016 when he suffered ACL and LCL damage that required surgery. Amarikwa has been documenting his recovery on social media and surprised Quakes fans when he make his on-pitch return last week in a friendly against Germany’s Eintracht Frankfurt. On Wednesday, he made his official return in the 76th minute. Amarikwa has nine goals and seven assists in 41 career appearances with the Quakes.
— It definitely wasn’t the homecoming head coach Chris Leitch was hoping for. Leitch played for five seasons over with the New York club. He made 101 appearances for the Metrostars/Red Bulls, assisting on five goals during his career.
He’s now 0-1-0 as an opposing head coach.
— It’s unfair to nitpick on a single defensive effort, given that soccer is a team sport, but the Red Bulls attacked center back Andres Imperiale often Wednesday afternoon — and more often than not, they were rewarded with a scoring opportunity. It’s the second straight poor showing on the road for the Quakes defense as a whole after surrendering a four-spot to Atlanta United FC on Independence Day.
SAN FRANCISCO — A day after Pablo Sandoval was designated for assignment, Bruce Bochy was asked about his former third baseman. He said he thinks “the world of Pablo.”
“He’ll be fine,” Bochy added. “He’s got enough to live on.”
Bochy gave no indication he was ready for a reunion. Behind closed doors, many added that they didn’t want one, period. For two days over the weekend, I chatted with players and team employees about the possibility of Sandoval returning. I didn’t find one who was eager for the move.
Someone, and someone important, apparently did.
According to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com and Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, Sandoval and the Giants will agree to a minor league deal. Giants officials declined comment Wednesday afternoon because Sandoval still has not cleared waivers. Sanchez and Heyman are as good as it gets, however, so we must ask the next question: “Why?”
Why do the Giants, in last place, possibly headed for their worst season ever and a rebuild, feel it’s a good idea to bring back a player who hasn’t had a good season since leaving in 2014 and left a scorched earth trail on his way to Boston?
Perhaps the reason is Sam Dyson. Team officials are thrilled with the move they pulled, acquiring Dyson essentially for free after he was designated by the Rangers. Dyson is now their closer. Maybe the Giants feel Sandoval can be similar found money.
Perhaps the reason is the sellout streak. The Giants, for the first time in seven years, are looking at nights where the park isn’t filled. Sandoval burned bridges, but he still has some fans in the Bay Area and there have to be a few dozen boxes of panda hats in a closet at AT&T Park, right?
Perhaps there’s an old-fashioned baseball reason, although that’s a bit harder to find. Sandoval posted a negative WAR in all three seasons in Boston and he played just 161 total games, posting a .237 average and a .646 OPS. But maybe Giants scouts see something there that they can fix, giving them a switch-hitter off the bench and potentially another option at third.
The Giants — should the move become official — will give their rationale. At some point, someone may have to explain this move to the clubhouse, too. After leaving, Sandoval said he only missed Bochy and Hunter Pence.
“Do I remember that story?” one player said this week, “Of course I do."
Some players expressed a desire to give time to Ryder Jones and Jae-gyun Hwang, and to wait for Christian Arroyo to get healthy. Instead, the Panda is reportedly returning. Why? Maybe the question asked in the front office one was a different one: “Given the way this season has gone, why not?”