After nearly reaching the playoffs in the first year under Matias Almeyda in 2019, this was the year the San Jose Earthquakes were supposed to take more strides forward. 


Instead, it's been a step sideways and a step back two games into the new season, after the Quakes crashed to a stunning 5-2 loss to Minnesota United on Saturday evening.


"There are no excuses from us for this game," Almeyda said after the defeat. "This game is reality. And the reality is that we lost it and we were defeated making very serious mistakes."


Like last week's 2-2 draw against Toronto FC, the Quakes were again in an early hole. But this time the Loons kept adding onto their advantage through Ike Opara's brace and goals from Jan Gregus, Luis Amarilla and Robin Lod, preventing any chance at a smiliar late comeback like San Jose pulled off against The Reds in Week 1. 


For Almeyda, there was a difference between the overall balance of play and the individual moments, particularly the two corner kicks that resulted in Opara's goals.


"It's one thing when a forward or defender jumps and because he has the individual ability to elevate himself for a great header two heads higher [than everyone else] — then you have to applaud that," Almeyda said. "But when you lose a mark, that's our mistake. When you cause a penalty kick, that's our mistake ... We have to improve all that.


"The unfortunate thing is that we've been working on all this for a while and it's telling me as a coach that I have to work even more to continue to improve the team."


It's worth remembering the 2019 Earthquakes also lost their first four matches while struggling to adjust to Almeyda's unique man-marking, 90-minutes-of-hell style. 


In 2019 the Earthquakes lost their first four matches as they struggled to adjust to the new playing style instituted by Almeyda and his coaching staff before eventually catching fire and contending for a playoff position following a miserable 2018, a perspective forward Chris Wondolowski tried to appreciate after Sunday's loss.


"We look at last year and after four games we had zero points so we're way ahead of pace," the all-time MLS scoring leader said. "We'll go with that."


Perhaps 2020 hasn't started according to plan, but given the recent past, midfielder Jackson Yueill it will take more than one blowout loss to derail team morale.


"I take it as something to learn, something to improve from and we have a lot of games left to play," Yueill said.


"I think the last two teams have been good teams in the league," he continued. "They have size, they have quality, they have good work rate and I think through most of this game we were there. We had set pieces where we were lacking a little bit of size and intensity in some moments. But for the most part of the game we were right with them and I think above them. This is just the start for us. There's a lot of room to improve, but a lot of games to do that."