Easily one of the most interesting teams in Major League Soccer this season, Matias Almeyda’s San Jose Earthquakes are a high octane force to be reckoned with.
So why can’t they get results?
Since shooting up the Western Conference standings in July, Almeyda’s men have lost six of their last eight matches and area in danger of falling out of the playoff race. There are a couple of caveats here: First, the Quakes are losing on the road; they still haven’t lost at home since March 30. Second, they have been without their manager on the sidelines for part of that run after Almeyda was suspended for, well, completely losing his cool.
Now San Jose is trying to figure out how to create enough goals to get back on track, and on Wednesday they will have to do it without their two best attacking pieces.
Cristian Espinoza and Chris Wondolowski were both red carded against Atlanta — as was Almeyda, again — as the Quakes melted down. Espinoza stamped on Franco Escobar and Wondo was ejected for abusive language.
So what does that leave us with for Wednesday?
There is still a lot of talent on this roster, but there might not be enough game-changers to survive the loss of two such important players. Vako has eight goals — six fewer than Wondolowski — and Magnus Eriksson has collected six while adding nine assists. Jackson Yueill has also grown in stature throughout the season and combines energy and vision to help San Jose convert their tireless man-making into transition opportunities.
Additionally, San Jose reloaded in the secondary window by adding Mexican Carlos Fierro and attacker Andy Rios. The latter already has one beautiful curling goal to his name and he may get another run out on Wednesday.
The one certainty is that the home side will create a chaotic, non-stop midweek affair. It may be a late night kickoff, but it won’t be a sleepy match.
It all begins at 11:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday, September 26, livestreaming on PhiladelphiaUnion.com in the Philly area and on the LiveWell Network.