Jeremy Ebobisse and the San Jose Earthquakes can both prove a point when they visit Nashville SC at GEODIS Park on Saturday night (8 pm ET | UniMas, TUDN, Twitter).
Ebobisse is arguably the most in-form American in Major League Soccer not included in the current June US men's national team camp.
In his first full season deployed as a full-time center forward, Ebobisse’s nine goals have him tied with USMNT and FC Dallas forward Jesus Ferreira for the lead in the chase for the 2022 MLS Golden Boot presented by Audi.
All of Ebobisse's goals have come since the start of April, making him the league's most productive striker in that span. And another goal or more against a Nashville side regarded known league-wide for its stout defense just might yet push him higher on US manager Gregg Berhalter's radar, with one more chance to earn a pre-World Cup call-up in September.
In the near term, adding to his goals total could help interim manager Alex Covelo snag a first away win to couple with the Quakes' much-improved home form since parting with former boss Matias Almeyda.
“He’s our player and he’s doing great. I can tell you what I see here every day at practice regarding Jeremy,” Covelo said, regarding whether Ebobisse deserves a USMNT call. “I do not know if I can have an unbiased opinion, but it’s clear that he is doing great. The question that you are asking me is maybe more for Gregg at the national team.”
Ebobisse only has one cap for the USMNT. And he received it in 2019 when he spent most of his time as a winger for the Portland Timbers, a position of far less need for the Yanks as Berhalter works towards his final roster with the World Cup under six months away.
San Jose acquired him in a mid-2021 trade to assume the starting No. 9 role, but concussion-related issues saw his time-limited.
Consistently healthy and available in 2022, Ebobisse now also has MLS all-time leading scorer Chris Wondolowski to learn from as an assistant coach after Covelo added Wondolowski to his staff.
"We’re always talking about striker positioning and movement, and the need to receive service," Ebobisse said of Wondolowski. "When I say service, it’s not always a cross or a final pass, but maybe it’s a ball in the buildup that you are touching, you are feeling a part of the game and a part of the team. By the time the ball does get in the final third, you know your teammates do want to find you.
"His messaging has been spot-on, the video and tactical work that he does with us leading into games is much needed, and he’s grown into the role in a great way."
Armchair Analyst: Jeremy Ebobisse brace at Vancouver
International call or not, Ebobisse could help the Quakes prove they’re a markedly improved side under Covelo.
San Jose have picked up 11 of their 14 points in the seven games since the Catalonian took charge (3W-1L-2D), but are still lacking an impressive away performance. Most recently, they lost 3-2 at LAFC in Week 14 despite pulling level on Ebobisse’s first-half brace after falling into an early 2-0 hole.
Nashville have taken points from all four of their home games since opening GEODIS Park in May, but twice have settled for a point.
“We want to make sure that we’re taking advantage of our numbers in specific areas of the field, making a conscious effort to drop the right guys into the right spaces and have the forward players coordinate their movements so that we are pulling that back-five out of position,” Ebobisse said of Nashville. “We know that Nashville [are] at home and their new stadium, and the form that they’re in. We’ll hope to beat a very challenging team, so we’ve got to be firing on all cylinders.”