It’s not the first time the San Jose Earthquakes have frustrated an opponent with pragmatic soccer. But after Wednesday night’s 1-0 loss to San Jose, Colorado Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja ripped especially hard into the Earthquakes.
“I feel for the fans. I feel for the people who came to the stadium and the people who watched this game on TV,” Pareja said postgame. “I feel sad for soccer, because today it was kicking and running.
“That was a very, very, very ugly game, and we took our part in the way that we couldn’t figure it out. We tried to put the ball on the ground and tried to get some soccer today in the field, but it’s very difficult to cope with a team that is kicking the ball up front and wrestling every ball in the air. It was a very difficult challenge for our team and we couldn’t overcome that.”
There’s no doubt Pareja’s attack-minded and possession-based brand of soccer clashed with the rugged style that played out at Buck Shaw Stadium. Clearly the Earthquakes’ tactics worked as Pareja’s side managed zero shots on net, while the Quakes had eight. The one that mattered came in the 69th minute when Chris Wondolowski headed in a corner kick to move the home side to within a point of Pareja’s for the fifth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
The Earthquakes also won the possession battle, 52.4-47.6 percent, and had eight corner kicks to Colorado’s two. Pareja said he felt his team latched onto the Earthquakes’ style and couldn’t establish momentum as a result.
“I felt even that we got contagious with it,” Pareja said. “We just started kicking and running too, and that’s sad for the game.”
This isn’t the first recent rodeo between the two sides. Back in June, Pareja was suspended for a match after getting into a verbal confrontation with Earthquakes interim coach Mark Watson after Watson appeared to throw a ball at Rapids midfielder Hendry Thomas.
Perhaps it’s the start of a rivalry between the two Western Conference foes. And if it is, it was the home side that escaped from Buck Shaw with the last laugh on Wednesday night – and three critical points to go with it.
“We have to find a way to figure it out. That’s on us,” Pareja said. “We’re not blaming any other team, this is the way the game is here, and as I said, sadly for the fans. But you have to find a way to figure it out.”
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.