MATCH PREVIEW: Earthquakes to build on positive momentum vs. D.C. United

For San Jose Earthquakes head coach Matias Almeyda, there is limitless potential in his players and the team collectively. Growth and development are two constants that come up when the Argentine discusses his project in San Jose.

“The players are not looking to excel individually. They want to excel as a team and that is fundamental,” Almeyda said after Saturday’s match against FC Dallas. “I always tell players not to be afraid to make mistakes and have the desire to make the same play because that is the only way in which we can grow.”

A collective team effort, highlighted by grit and determination, resulted in San Jose’s first win of the 2021 season. Oswaldo Alanis converted a penalty kick in the 34th minute and Cristian Espinoza increased the Earthquakes’ lead with a goal five minutes into the second half. Cade Cowell then scored a stunner to seal the victory. Carlos Fierro was named Man of the Match for his heroic goal-line clearance in the first half and playing a tremendous pass to Cowell for the team’s third goal.

The Earthquakes continue to reach new milestones under Almeyda. A standout performance from the 17-year-old Homegrown Player earned him national recognition with nominations for MLS Goal of the Week and Player of the Week. Cowell was ultimately named to the MLS Team of the Week for Week 2, making him the youngest player to earn MLS Team of the Week honors so far this season.

Cowell’s attitude and contributions have earned him the nod from Almeyda for consecutive starts in San Jose’s matches played to date in 2021.

“It was just a really good chance. It gave me a lot of confidence because Matias obviously believes in me a lot to start me.” Cowell said during a press conference on Wednesday. “So, it gave me a lot of confidence to go out there and make mistakes and get them back.”

Cowell continues to receive praise by the coaching staff and his teammates, who envision a European future for him.

“He’s a humble player, humble at heart, wants to listen, wants to learn, wants to ask questions,” Almeyda also shared. “That makes me believe he is going to be a great player. He also has to understand that it takes time because we can’t just be satisfied with his potential and his speed, because he has to aspire to play in Europe like we’ve talked about.”

Fierro believes Cowell is one of the best players on the team. Despite his age, Fierro affirms his speed and desire enable him to compete with more experienced players.

“He is going step by step in getting experience,” Fierro said. “With his speed and his desire, he has helped the team by scoring and assisting. I can see him joining a big club in Europe.”

Almeyda, Cowell and the Quakes look to build on their performance when they host D.C. United on Saturday, May 1. Both clubs enter Saturday’s contest with identical 1-1-0 records. D.C. is now led by Hernan Losada, who joins fellow countrymen Almeyda and Gabriel Heinze (Atlanta Untied FC) in the argentine MLS head coach pool this season.

Losada’s side earned a 2-1 victory over New York City FC in a Week 1 matchup at Audi Field. United then fell 1-0 versus the New England Revolution in the first match of a three-game road swing. United are looking to improve their performance as visitors when they face the Quakes at PayPal Park.

Looking forward to Saturday’s match, Almeyda is expecting to face a team that is fundamentally new, yet still competitive. He expects an even battle in which a positive result can only be earned.

“We’re up against a team that’s alternated,” Almeyda said. “They play with five at the back and also four at the back. A team with lots of new players. They’ve won one game and the other game didn’t go so well, but they’re still a hard team to be up against. We’re going to keep studying them and also try to play our game.”

Kickoff at PayPal Park is set for 8 p.m. PT and will be broadcast on NBC Sports California, KNBR 1050 and 1370 KZSF.

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