matias almeyda - quote

SAN JOSE, Calif. – The San Jose Earthquakes will travel to Texas to feature in the first ever MLS match at Q2 Stadium vs. expansion side Austin FC this Saturday, June 19. The match kicks off at 6:00 p.m. PT and will be broadcast nationally on UniMás and TUDN, KNBR 1050 and 1370 KZSF.

Head coach Matias Almeyda and midfielders Cristian Espinoza and Jackson Yueill spoke to media ahead of Saturday’s match.

SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES HEAD COACH MATIAS ALMEYDA

On what was practiced during the international break in order to improve:

“We worked quite a bit on fitness through demanding training sessions. We’ve had some injuries for some players and others were with their national teams, Jackson [Yueill] just got back. We were adapting with the players that were available to us with different exercises. Training has been sharper this week. We have been thinking about the opponent. We gave days off for the players to disconnect and reflect and come back refreshed because we are moving into an important phase of the season, and we need to get back to winning.”

On playing a role in the MLS debut of Austin FC’s new stadium:

“It’s gives us a lot of pleasure and I personally have a lot of admiration for them. I think they quickly formed a good team with very good players. From what we’ve seen, the stadium looks nice. The main focus will be the return of soccer matches with fans and family in attendance.”

On using the international break to build the comradery and refocus the team:

“We have a great group, a group that trains well and tries to be on top of what we ask from them. The situation in Orlando [in 2020] was really beneficial because it allowed us to live together for a long time, and I try to organize something similar in the preseason. This was different because they had days off to enjoy their families, as I asked them to. For me, it’s really important that the players value their families and spend time with them. Once they go through the locker room doors, they become focused on our work and game. We look for that energy from everyone, that they enjoy their partners, children and parents. When we train, that’s our main focus. We hope this time has favored us and allows us to get back to winning. As I was saying before, even though the last results went against us, we know that in the game itself, the team is not doing bad. We need to finish on goal-scoring opportunities and be more relentless, and we will see that there is no magic here. We’ll try to get the best from everybody and face this part of the season with the same desire that we always have and try to be competitive.”

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SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES MIDFIELDER JACKSON YUEILL

 On the experience and takeaways from winning the Nations League championship:

“It was a really special trip. It was really good to be with the guys again and of course win the tournament. It’s been a long tournament, I think it started back in 2019, so I’m happy we were able to come away and win in such an important environment against a really good team and it shows the growth that the United States is having, and the quality of players in that group to be able to compete and play at that level. I think it was seeing the different types of play and different types of environments that CONCACAF shows. For myself, I’m really pleased with how it went and I’m looking forward to being back here in San Jose and bringing what I saw there back here.”

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On what needs to be done in order to earn more call-ups to the national team:**

“In San Jose, the coach is Matias [Almeyda] and he wants me to play a certain way. They’re similar philosophies in the work rate and the intensity but the styles are a lot different. You have to perform at the club level to play at the national team level. The message is just keep going, keep working hard and keep improving, and always look to better yourself and improve and hope your team wins because that translates into the national team. There are things that I want to work on here with Matias in the final third of play that helps stay with the national team. Right now, it’s about playing these games with San Jose and trying to get us back to the top of the table.”

On adapting to different play styles between the national team and club:

“I think they’re both very different yet very similar. I think the fitness level and intensity is similar in both, but the tactics are much different. I think you’re more position oriented with the national team. Understanding those spaces and where you’re supposed to be at the right moments takes some time and I think my first couple of camps with the national team, it was hard to adapt. I think the more that I’m with them and the more that I work with Gregg [Berhalter] and the rest of the staff, it’s easier to switch between the two. Here, it’s more man oriented and being close to your marks and being aggressive in the defending aspect of it. At the beginning, it was challenging to go back and forth and try to switch, but both coaching staffs have helped a lot in the transition period of doing that. I enjoy playing in both systems because the staff teaches it really well to the team and the team has really bought in and when that happens, it’s easy to slide in, change and play your best.”

SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES MIDFIELDER CRISTIAN ESPINOZA

 On his thoughts on facing Austin FC and playing in the opening MLS match at Q2 Stadium:

“We’re approaching the match with the same attention and the same desire as always, regardless of who the opponent is. The fact that they will be opening their stadium against us does not change our style of play. We have to play a great game because we have a great opponent in front of us, and we have to do things right in order to earn a win on the road.”

On the team’s current mood after suffering recent losses:

“The team’s culture continues to be the same as always. We’re all striving forward. We know that we have to turn the team’s image around from these last games. In my opinion, I think we played good games in those recent matches. We made a few mistakes, but many times teams take advantage of them, and we weren’t able to finish our chances created. But we’re now working to improve every day, working hard like always and striving forward, and that is the only way that all of our results and team objectives can be achieved.”

On what the team has been working on to turn their current situation around:

“We have to put in the hard work. We’re not satisfied with just a great start to the season, especially in these last four matches. We played well, and we now have to improve on the details that cost us the negative results.”

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