The road (more or) less traveled.
I've seen a lot of quibbling on the internets (a series of tubes, by the way) about how awful the Quakes have been on the road, and while I am not here to tell you otherwise, I am here to clarify or give context to the statistics. Since the start of the 2016 season, the San Jose Earthquakes have won just 4 of 38 road games, that's roughly an 11% win rate (and I'm only doing this in the context of wins, not points). The Western Conference, including the San Jose Earthquakes, as a whole over that same period of time had win rates of roughly 18% in 2016, 19% in 2017, and through just 47 games in 2017 a 23% win rate, with 11 of 47 road games played in 2018 ending in wins for the visiting team. For the Eastern Conference, in 2016 they had a win rate of 19% in, 22% in 2017, and so far in 2018, a 27% win rate when traveling (11 wins in 40 road games). The only point I am trying to make out of all of this is that it is really, really hard to win on the road in Major League Soccer. The Portland Timbers, the Western conference winners of 2017, the MLS Cup champions of 2015... they have the exact same road record (in this context) as the San Jose Earthquakes since the start of the 2016 season, which is just 4 wins. If there's a bright side here, "On the payroll Teddy" will point out that the Quakes aren't getting destroyed on the road, which was definitely happening last year.
The Flo is real:
I'd like to thank Florian Jungwirth for making me look very good on Saturday, when he took the ball on the left wing in the waning moments of the first half, I said that he had "...two goals last week against Orlando..." and what does our German brother do? He puts an absolutely beautiful ball across the face of the goal where Danny Hoesen was crashing backpost to headbang it home. I think Jungwirth is playing ticked off futbol, and I love it. I actually think that's something the Quakes need to use to their advantage. A huge part of the Quakes identity, in my mind, is that teams have to work harder when playing San Jose, and that they're going to hurt more after playing the Quakes. But this year, I feel that a bit of the Quakes attitude on the pitch has been lacking. I want to see Magnus getting in guys faces, I want to see Tarbell going to the air for a ball with shoulders aimed for pain. I want Nick Lima to break some ankles with footwork not usually seen from a fullback. I want the swagger to return. The team is lacking swagger, and it needs it, badly. No better time than the now to bring the attitude.
This team is starting to find itself. They're coming off two straight wins, one of which was a dismantling of NYCFC 3-0. The qualifier is that both wins came at home, and like we mentioned above, they're not very good on the road. I'm looking squarely at Blanco, Chara, Valeri, and Adi though, and those guys are all fantastic players, as is Liam Ridgewell (especially after the wakeup call he got). I think the challenge for San Jose will be, obviously, along the back line, but I really want to see the midfield have a quality game. That's been lacking as of late, and when you're linking the chain back to front, it all weighs unfairly heavily on the shoulders of whoever is in the middle. If the Quakes want to win, that's the area, offensively, that needs to gel much better than it has been. There have been moments of great play, but never a full game. When a midfield dominates a game, it’s easy to figure out who's most likely to win. Godoy has the ability to dominate, and Yueill and his passing can cause huge problems. Flo wreaks havoc everywhere. We all know the backline needs to be better, but if the mids bring it, the Quakes earn three points. Book it.
I am really happy for Chris Dangerfield. I have known Danger for a while, first when I was an impressionable young man, going with my dad to Clash games. Danger was doing color on the broadcasts with my dad, and he was a funny, charming guy, who was tremendous as a broadcaster. Danger is one of those guys that you always learn from. His manner is one that makes the explanation of the very technical in soccer one that is easily understood by the common fan. Working with him now is really fun. He's still very passionate about the team, and you can tell he's still living those games in real time in his head because he wore the Quakes kit, and it means something to him, and that never goes away. I was obviously too young to see him play beyond the highlights available to us now, but my Dad always talks about how he made everyone around him better, and that "he had a nose for the goal." I got a first hand view of that when we were matching Manchester United against San Jose back in 2015. Manchester was not even at the centerline when Danger looks at me quickly and says "here's a goal," and sure enough 50+ yards and a few passes later, Man U scored. That vision, that understanding, that type of ability to see the play that far before it happens - that is why he was so good. That is why he played at a level and now broadcasts at a level that has him going into the Quakes Hall of Fame.