That's the 2018 San Jose Earthquakes in a nutshell, right? It's one thing to lose on the road in Major League Soccer, as road teams only win on the road at a rate of roughly twenty percent of the time, but if you lose at home, you're not going to be in a good place. That said, nothing was quite as psychologically damaging as Saturday night's 4-3 loss to LAFC. The match was classic Norcal vs Socal, with twists and turns and controversy aplenty, like stoppage time galore, but it was a bad loss. Wondo put the team on his back, scoring two goals to give San Jose a 3-2 lead in the second half, while puking on the pitch Pete Sampras style (1996 US Open). It was a sight to behold, and pretty badass. It was Wondo showing exactly why he is reeling in Landon Donovan for the all time goal scoring record in MLS history. With each goal he displayed aggression, calmness, precision, awareness. He created, plain and simple. The flip side was that the match itself showed exactly why the team is struggling. When you give up goals in the 90th and 97th minutes of a match, you're not going to win. The Quakes have had a number of inexplicable finishes this year that are not indicative of a lack of effort, which makes it all the more frustrating. In sports, we occasionally find a team that finds ways to simply not win. That's where San Jose finds themselves at the moment.
Danny Hoesen is having a monster year, with nine goals through 15 games, which puts him on pace for 20 goals. If you had told me the Quakes had the potential of having a 20-goal scorer on the team, and that it wasn't Chris Wondolowski, I'd be expecting the Quakes to be replicating 2012, or something similar, but alas, no. What it does do, is provide context to the adjustment that is being experienced by Magnus, and still, Vako, as it appears it took Hoesen a full year to unleash his potential. Magnus is 15 matches into his MLS career, and I think has shown himself to be a quality TAM signing. Vako, is not yet a full year into his MLS career, and has shown the ability to be a valid game changing designated player. The problem is that the game-changing ability of Vako hasn't been able to shine on a game in game out basis, but there were several moments during the Wednesday night's match where Vako looked like the best player on the pitch. It didn't convert to a win, but it does make me hopeful that the Quakes will be better down the line.
This signing makes me excited for a number of reasons. The first is that the Quakes need to improve along the back line. We have young guys that are developing nicely, but the growing pains have, well, caused pain at times. The second reason is that when you watch film of this guy from Vitesse, he's really, really good. Quality passing, good footwork, strong positioning, all the things you look for in a center defender. Third, Vitesse fans seem to genuinely be distraught over his departure and in love with the guy's style of play, which immediately makes me think the Quakes are getting another Florian Jungwirth type player: a fan favorite due to effort and playmaking.
Yeah, it's here. I am still bummed about the U.S. not being involved, but I almost forgot about this morning as the first match got underway. There's nothing like the World Cup, and it is finally with us.