The San Jose Earthquakes will play a second-straight road match when they face Orlando City SC on Tuesday, June 22. It will be the second of three matches set to be played in the span eight days, following Saturday’s match with Austin FC and ahead of this Saturday’s California Clasico. Tuesday’s match also marks San Jose’s second and final regular-season fixture against an Eastern Conference opponent in 2021.
Tuesday’s match follows an eventful Saturday evening for the Earthquakes, in which the team came away with a hard-fought point after a scoreless draw in their first-ever match against Austin FC. Despite the scoreless outcome, the Quakes showed signs of progress from previous results, highlighted by goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski’s first shutout in 2021 (sixth in MLS career) and first since Oct. 28, 2020 (2-0 vs. Real Salt Lake).
“I think it’s a long time coming to be honest,” Marcinkowski said in a press conference following Saturday’s match. “We’ve been playing well in the back, just haven’t found a clean sheet yet. It was a really good night to have our first one and unfortunate not to get more. I thought we deserved a little bit more out of the game, but we’ll take the point and all eyes on Orlando now.”
Earthquakes head coach Matias Almeyda experimented with a new formation. Almeyda believed the team needed to make effective changes and play a specific way to get a favorable result against Austin FC. The Quakes split points with Austin FC and snapped a four-match losing streak.
“We were asked what we have been working on during the [international] break,” Almeyda said on Saturday. “During this time, we were practicing this style of play and method because we thought we should play this way in this match. I am very pleased. I thought the team made a huge effort. We created clear counterattacking opportunities through this system. We still need that last step. We will keep working on that aspect, but overall, the guys were great interpreters.
“It was important to end the losing streak. Overall, we went back to seeing a team that is combative and a team that can control the game, and a team that came to be the protagonist of this event.”
The Earthquakes had several goal-scoring opportunities that stemmed from counterattacks, including a chance for a game winner from Carlos Fierro in the 82nd minute, had it not been for a huge save from Austin keeper Brad Stuver, one of nine the Quakes forced on the night.
As stated by Marcinkowski, the Earthquakes now turn their attention to Tuesday’s meeting with Orlando City SC, which comes just three days after Saturday’s match.
Speaking on the recovery process in preparation for Tuesday, Marcinkowski said, “A lot of the guys begrudgingly had to get in the ice bath. It’s going to be a lot of that, a lot of recovery tomorrow. We’ll fly to Orlando and have a good session there, have a good session Monday. But it’s going to be a lot of recovery and massages, recovery boots and all the tools that we have.
“We’ll be prepared. I’m not worried about it. We’re used to playing on three days (rest) and we did that a lot last year, so there’s that experience. Orlando’s going to be a really fun game, a great environment and easy to get up for. All eyes on that and the guys will be ready.”
The Quakes will in fact need to be ready. Orlando City SC are a top team in 2021, currently in second place (4-1-3; 15 pts.) in the Eastern Conference standings.
In addition to Portuguese superstar Nani, who leads the team with four goals, the team’s potent attack is anchored by Canadian forward Tesho Akindele, Brazilian midfielder Junior Urso, and Uruguayan midfielder Mauricio Pereyra.
Kickoff at Exploria Stadium is set for 4:30 p.m. PT and the match will be broadcast live on UniMás, Twitter, KNBR 1050 and 1370 KZSF.