The 2019 San Jose Earthquakes season is only two weeks old, but after two home losses to start the campaign— including a 3-0 blanking by Minnesota United FC in Week 2 — it's feeling like 2018 all over again.
While new coach Matias Almeyda has some insights on how the team he sees in practice has differed from the one that's turned out for matches at Avaya Stadium, it's veteran forward Chris Wondolowski who has an immediate diagnosis.
"Don't get me wrong, there were some bad breaks," he told reporters after Saturday's game, "but to be honest it has nothing to do with our skills or our attributes. We need to think our game, think our way through a game and understand what it takes to play 90 minutes mentally. I think physically, we are fine. I think physically, we can do great things."
Wondolowski — who remains one goal from tying Landon Donovan's all-time MLS record of 145 career goals — placed some of the blame on himself. He noted in his post-match interview that he hit a post with a shot, and missed an additional late-match goal attempt that might have salvaged something from the match.
"I think we're just missing that final pass, [that] final shot, and [we need to] be a little bit sharper and have a deadly finish," he added.
He went on to assess that the team's play indicates they need to snap out of bad habits.
Almeyda was left puzzled by his team's performance, saying, "In the first half, I saw a team with doubts, a team with a lot of defensive errors, and in the second half, early on, came the penalty and the game started to change completely.
"There was the penalty, then came a distraction on one of our corners," he continued. "They came at us on a counterattack that we had already studied and trained, and then the third goal [was] an own goal. Then we became desperate to depend on crossing the ball, even though we knew their aerial game was strong. We made mistakes, we have to watch the game and get a lot better."
Both men focused on the number of high crosses played on the night as diverging from their plan.
"We made many mistakes," said Almeyda. "The game play should have been on the ground and we planned to not send in aerial crosses because both of their center backs are well positioned and strong in the air. So, we wanted to make combo plays on the outside, cut in with our wingbacks and forwards, and send low, strong crosses. We managed to do this two or three times; one I think hit the post in the first half, the other one missed by only 10 centimeters. But then we sent in 20 aerial crosses which wasn't our style."
The schedule doesn't get any easier for San Jose. They next go across the country to face the New York Red Bulls, then return home for a friendly against the Monterrey team currently giving Atlanta United all they can handle in CCL play, and then host LAFC and Portland the following two weeks.