Seven games into the Matias Almeyda era, the San Jose Earthquakes seem to finally be settling into their new system, with Saturday’s 4-1 win over Sporting Kansas City their second victory in third games.
Much like the team, striker Danny Hoesen is also hitting a groove.
The Dutchman netted two goals against SKC, giving him three tallies across his last three games. His form has pushed Chris Wondolowski, who remains one tally shy of tying Landon Donovan’s MLS all-time goal record (145), to the bench.
So what’s changed? Almeyda noted how the 28-year-old had a visa issue and missed 10 days of training early in the year.
“Ten days out of training sessions are a lot, especially to adapt to a new style,” Almeyda said on Saturday. “We had to convince him that he was a complete player, and this is the way that he should play, making sacrifices defensively for the team and being convinced he can score a lot of goals. Today, not only did he play well attacking, but he also helped a lot defensively.”
Hoesen is buying into the system, and making the most of his chances.
“If this system works, and [with] the freedom we get to play, then it’s a lot of fun,” Hoesen said. “You see people smiling on the field. You see people working for each other. You see these guys every day. You see these guys maybe more than your own family. You need to work together and like each other. After a win, it’s a lot easier.”
Hoesen appeared as a substitute during the first four games of Almeyda’s time in San Jose, and his return to the starting XI has coincided with an increasingly confident Quakes side taking six of nine points available to them. But his form perhaps shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Hoesen racked up 12 goals and four assists last year after the Earthquakes signed him from FC Groningen on a permanent basis. Given that, and his experience with UEFA Champions League regulars Ajax and the Netherlands' Under-21 national team, he's got the pedigree to be Almeyda's first-choice striker.
That history, combined with his recent resurgence, has Hoesen optimistic about what's to come.
“If you miss chances, you should forget about it and go for the next one,” Hoesen said. “Against Portland, I got in some good positions and didn’t score and today I did score. So, hopefully I can build on this confidence and keep going.”