SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Despite their season-opening 2-1 loss to the Montreal Impact, hope sprang eternal at Avaya Stadium on Saturday night, as the San Jose Earthquakes officially put their disastrous 2018 season behind them and opened the Matias Almeyda era with a fresh outlook and a clean slate.
“This is a new mentality,” said Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski after the game. “It’s a new team, new agenda and a new atmosphere. We’re very optimistic and even bubbling.”
Even with the familiar result, there were a lot of positive moments from the Quakes, who looked much more promising in their attack but were unable to break through the Impact’s concentrated defensive shape. More important for San Jose was the mentality of the squad, as the team remained engaged and stayed in the game despite giving up an early lead and taking a deficit into halftime, a departure from past Quakes squads that would frequently allow the floodgates to open in the face of adversity.
“I am happy with how the team worked,” said Earthquakes coach Matias Almeyda through a translator. “I saw a team that was dynamic and intense and it was a team that wanted to win. We like to play and we like the players to express themselves. The fans are paying to see a spectacle and we should give them that.”
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A proven winner throughout both his career as a player and as a manager, Almeyda expects to do the same in San Jose, and even with an improved Quakes performance, he knows that means very little if the team doesn’t get a result.
“I don’t like to lose. Today I’m not going to be able to sleep, I’m going to watch the game three or four times,” said Almeyda. “There are details that we have to improve on. The day that the opponent dribbles past five of our players and scores I will congratulate him. Now if one of our players isn’t where he is supposed to be, then we have to correct that error.”
Now with the season opener out of the way, the Quakes are looking forward to the rest of the season and feel like they are on their way to turning around the struggling club.
“It’s going to be a process,” Wondolowski said. “We want to be peaking in 30 weeks and hitting our stride then. We want to make sure we start playing well and eliminating our mistakes because we do feel that we have a great team that can be very dangerous.”