San Jose Earthquakes vs. New York Red Bulls: What We Learned
The Earthquakes got back to their 2012 form in a 2-1 victory over the New York Red Bulls.
They obviously needed a game to work out the rust. They lost the season opener 2-0 to Real Salt Lake one week prior. However, they had their never-say-die attitude back in full swing on Sunday.
The Quakes looked sharp early with a couple quick chances being swept away by the Red Bulls defense. However, it was New York who got the scoring started. Eric Alexander scored off a Thierry Henry cross in the 16th minute.
There weren't a lot of opportunities for either side until late in the game. In the 83rd minute, rookie substitute Adam Jahn put a Sam Cronin cross into the back of the net. Cronin received a through ball from captain Ramiro Corrales and sent a left-footed cross across the goal for the outstretched foot of Jahn.
The Earthquakes weren't finished yet. Chris Wondolowski scored on a penalty kick in the 90th minute to secure the victory for San Jose.
The penalty was set up by a headed effort from Jahn that bounced off the arm of Red Bulls defender Roy Miller in the box. Wondo's first attempt was saved by keeper Luis Robles, but the Quakes were given a second chance thanks to encroachment by Miller. Wondo didn't miss a second time, sending Robles the wrong way as he tucked the ball into the back of the net.
We may only be two games into the season, but there are few things to learn from this game.
The Magic Is Back
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It may be a different year, but it feels very similar.
Tell me if you've heard this one before. The San Jose Earthquakes are down late in the game. They score a late equalizer and get a winner in stoppage time.
The 2012 Quakes were known for their late-game heroics. The 2013 Quakes might just be more of the same. Missing several key players, you wouldn't have expected San Jose to score late the way they had in the past. However, Adam Jahn might just be the newest addition to the "Goonies" for his late-game antics.
Jahn scored the equalizer and earned a penalty that won the game in stoppage time with his ability in the air. He should fit right in with this squad.
Last year, the question was if the Earthquakes could sustain a pace of winning games at the last second. They came up just shy against L.A., but that didn't stop them from starting it all over again.
I called them the most exciting team in sports last year, and now it appears that they are back.
The Red Bulls Have Issues
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On paper, the Red Bulls are a very talented team. Unfortunately for them, paper doesn't determine who wins games.
New York appeared to be controlling the game through the first half and a large portion of the second half. However, simple mistakes cost them the game.
The first goal was well played by San Jose, but the second never should have happened. Roy Miller's arm was where it never should have been when Adam Jahn headed the ball off of it. Defenders should know to keep their arms down when going after a ball that way. It was a bad day for Miller because that was only his second-biggest mistake.
Chris Wondolowski's penalty was well-blocked by goalkeeper Luis Robles, but Wondo was gifted a second chance because of another Miller blunder. Miller ran into the box before Wondo had even started his approach to the ball, causing the ref to give the Quakes a second shot at the penalty due to encroachment. Wondo didn't miss the second, and the Red Bulls gave up all three points on the day.
The Red Bulls struggled last season with simple mistakes and never lived up to potential. The Quakes game marked their second blown lead this year. They need to figure out how to cut out mistakes if they want the results to start matching the talent.
The Earthquakes Need Size
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With respect to Mike Fucito, the Quakes might be better served having someone with more height on the field.
The Quakes showed they can win games. They also showed that they play one way. San Jose's best and seemingly only move is to get the ball out wide and cross it into the box. This strategy served to help them win the Supporter's Shield a season ago. However, this year they are without strikers Alan Gordon and Steven Lenhart.
Fucito appears to be a solid technical player. He also doesn't lack effort. When balls were being crossed in, he was leaping up with the big boys trying to win the headers. He's just too small.
The game radically changed when Jahn entered. He was the big target forward who made plays in the air that the Quakes were looking for all game. Jahn might be the solution until Lenny and Gordon can get back.
It's Going to Be an Exciting Season
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The MLS continues to gain support in the United States. It also continues to improve in quality.
There are more Designated Players, more soccer specific stadiums and better young talent every year. This year looks like it will do plenty to attract fans.
Fans of the Earthquakes certainly have something to look forward to. They carry on their late-game heroics and have the reigning MVP getting back to his goalscoring ways. If they can find size up top, they should have a very good season.
The Red Bulls still have a dynamic roster but need to cut out mistakes if they want to have a shot at hoisting a trophy at the end of the season.