Like everyone else that's emotionally invested in the Quakes, I'm watching the Audi 2017 MLS playoffs and thinking "We could be here. We beat that team. We..." It's an exercise in the obviously incorrect (we lost in the knockout round, might I remind you), but it speaks to the fact that there was no weaning period for Quakes fans, no controlled detox. We went from the highest of highs after Minnesota, and then had it all ripped away just days later by Vancouver. So I'm here to look back at some of the moments from the season that you may have forgotten in the afterglow (or after burn) of the past few weeks. Let's go month by month.
Nick Lima burst onto the scene in the first two games of the season, shutting down Ignacio Piatti in game one of the year, and had a huge equalizing goal in the second game of the year. As a homegrown talent, his speed, tenacity, and work rate immediately made Quakes fans fall in love with the East Bay local, and made pundits nation-wide talk of his potential with the USMNT. Although he was hampered by a hamstring injury in the last bit of the year, there should be no slowing down his hype train moving forward.
Anibal Godoy is, to those paying attention to more than goals and assists, one of the best midfielders in Major League Soccer. His passing, his defense, his ability to impact a game all are unnoticed by many (the red cards, however...), but he made his Impact felt (pun fully intended) when he scored the game winner against Montreal in Week 1, and then had a bomb from distance in Week 2 to give the Quakes a come from behind 3-2 win over Vancouver. They were his two goals of the season, but considering both were game winners, I'll take it every single time.
Never too late for a draw.
After dropping two on the road at SKC and NYCFC, the Quakes came back home and had to rely on late equalizers from Chris Wondolowski and Jahmir Hyka to garner points in matches against Seattle and Dallas. Both came quite late, and added to the drama, and were part of the early signs that this team would be a beast at Avaya all year long.
A road win comes early!
In 2016, the Quakes were not a good road team, and didn't get their first road win until August up in Vancouver, but in 2017, although they were again NOT a good road team, the Quakes did post a couple more wins, AND they got road win number one of the season much sooner in 2017. It was a grey afternoon in Minnesota, a relatively dull affair, but it was a second-half goal by Florian Jungwirth off a corner kick from Jahmir Hyka that was played into chaos from Wondo and ricocheted home to give the Quakes a 1-0 win for a big three points on the road
Brace yourselves, Wondo strikes.
At the age of 34, Chris Wondolowski showed no signs of slowing down in 2017, scoring 13 goals, and assisting eight others. Two of those 13 goals, and one of those eight assists came in one of the Quakes most dominant victories of 2017, a 3-0 drubbing of Portland at Avaya Stadium to kick-off the month of May. Florian Jungwirth also continued to prove himself to be a great offseason acquisition, assisting both of Wondolowski's goals.
First signs of real road trouble in 2017.
The Earthquakes suffered a rough road defeat at the hands of the Colorado Rapids 3-0 just a week after handing the same final to the Timbers at Avaya. At the time, it seemed like a let-down game for the Earthquakes, and a last gasp for Colorado, a team that had a bounce-back year in 2016, and was trying to find itself in the still relatively early goings of 2017, but Colorado finished the year tied for the second-worst record in the league, and in retrospect it was the first glimpse at what were to be big-time road woes in 2017.
2017 was a big year for Tommy Thompson, the Quakes first-ever homegrown signing. (Courtesy Jake Pisani and the stats he compiled in Tommy Thompson's season review article) He had career-highs in appearances (32), starts (16), and minutes played, to go with four assists, and a goal. His first-career assist came on a Wednesday night at Avaya after the Earthquakes fell behind Orlando City SC in the 80th minute 1-0. Just three minutes later, Thompson fielded a ball on top of the area on a corner kick that he sent back in towards the far post where Wondo was waiting to knock it home and earn San Jose a big point (they were all big points in the end). In reaction, Wondo was more excited for Tommy than his goal, by far, and it was yet another moment of late-match dramatics that played such a factor for San Jose in 2017.
Coming off the draw against Orlando, the Quakes were right back on the road, heading down to Dallas, who at that point, were as good a home team as there was in MLS. As the scoreless match ticked into the 81st minute, Hyka took a perfectly-passed ball from Marco Urena (underrated assist in light of the wonder goal), and then flicked it over the top of Matt Hedges to himself to clang in off the back post to give San Jose a 1-0 lead, a 1-0 win, and a nomination for Goal of the Year. Not a bad night's work for the "Albanian Messi."