After a solid showing in the MLS is Back Tournament, the San Jose Earthquakes struggled immensely for the first two months of the MLS regular season restart. Tempers flared, questions were being asked about the coaching and roster and, at one point, the fires in Northern California prevented the team from even being able to train.
But then the Quakes came from behind to beat LAFC — a club they had never previously taken a single point from in league play — in Los Angeles on September 27. Then San Jose came home and beat the LA Galaxy the following Saturday. Four days later, Matias Almeyda and the Earthquakes shut out the Vancouver Whitecaps 3-0, a win that lifted them above the playoff line.
While Almeyda believes that they have finally overcome the rough start, they aren’t getting ahead of themselves. After the win against Vancouver, he said, via a translator, that they are taking it “day-by-day and game-by-game. To see how we’ll train tomorrow and how the players will come back tomorrow after this game.”
Midfielder Jackson Yueill, who signed a multi-year contract extension with the club earlier in the day, echoed his manager’s sentiments.
"We’re taking it one step at a time, one game at a time," he said. "You can tell that in these games, I think, each game we're kind of getting better and better and you can see improvement on the ball and without the ball. And so that's our focus, trying to improve game in and game out and fine-tune the little details so at the end we’re where we want to be.”
Highlights: San Jose Earthquakes vs. Vancouver Whitecaps
HIGHLIGHTS: San Jose Earthquakes 3-0 Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Homegrown goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski has been between the sticks for all three of San Jose’s recent wins after replacing Daniel Vega and admitted that the results can affect how things go in the locker room, but it’s important to avoid getting “too high on these wins and we can't get too low when we lose. It's just trying to maintain that same equal line and just consistently getting better game in, game out, looking at our mistakes, looking at the things we did well and kind of trying to improve on those things.”
Staying focused and consistent will be key for the Quakes as they prepare for their next game on Sunday against the Portland Timbers.
“There are no excuses. We have to fight. We know how this team can fight,” Almeyda said. “The work these guys have done and all of San Jose has been good. We’ll look to keep this up, knowing it’s difficult.”
"What I ask the players is to stay calm: calm when we lose and calm when we win," he added. "Because soccer is always changing and sometimes people are slaves to their words. We only have these words: work, conviction, fellowship, faith. And faith is fundamental and that’s what I try to transmit. I believe in work, I believe in the people and I believe in the players I coach.”