SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES vs. MINNESOTA UNITED FC
Avaya Stadium | San Jose, California
03.09.2019 | MLS Week No. 2 | MLS Game No. 2
7:00 p.m. CT (FOX Sports North+, FOX Sports GO, MNUFC Radio on SKOR North)
SJ: 0-1-0, 0-1-0 at home
MIN: 1-0-0, 1-0-0 on the road
Despite capturing the team’s first-ever season opening win and their first-ever away win against a Western Conference opponent when they faced Vancouver Whitecaps FC last weekend, the Loons have no time to rest on their laurels. This weekend they head to San Jose to face the Earthquakes in the second game of the five-game roadtrip that begins their season. While standout performances from midfielder Darwin Quintero and defender Francisco Calvo landed them on the MLS Team of the Week, they and the rest of the Loons know there’s work to be done to clean up the mistakes that led to two goals for the Whitecaps. The game kicks off at 7:00 p.m. CT with pregame coverage beginning at 6:30 p.m. on FOX Sports North+, streaming on FOX Sports GO and on MNUFC Radio on SKOR North.
“We conceded two poor goals from set pieces, which obviously we've had a good long chat about this morning,” said Head Coach Adrian Heath. “But in general, having watched the video back a couple of times, it was what I thought. We were in control of the game for most parts. Some of our control/possession in the first half was lovely to watch and I thought we looked really dangerous on the counterattack as they pressed more in the second half. It was a good day for us, good goals and a lot of the stuff that we've been working on was there for all to see. It was a pleasing game, a good start, but that's just what it was: a start.”
Although the final possession numbers showed a nearly even split, it felt like MNUFC controlled the game, bettering Vancouver in shots, passing accuracy, tackles and clearances. Throughout, the poise and leadership of players like defender Ike Opara and midfielder Osvaldo Alonso — who complete 81 of 84 passes for a 96% passing accuracy, plus notched seven tackles — was on display. In possession, MNUFC was relatively conservative, spending a good amount of time cycling the ball 35 to 40 yards out in Vancouver’s half but got more aggressive in transition with both Calvo and defender Romain Metanire making overlapping runs down the wings.
Jan Gregus — the team’s third Designated Player, who joined the team this offseason — didn’t have a particularly noteworthy game, but then again, that’s not a particularly harsh knock on a team’s #8. While he made a few errant passes, it’s not unexpected for the Slovakia international to encounter a bit of a learning curve as he adjusts to the role of connecting the defense to the offense and understanding where his teammates are going to be.
“I obviously don't know the other teams that well, but we're going to see,” he said. “We played a decent first game. We can do much better in defense in some situations, but that we can work on during the week and be ready and better next game.”
“We feel we have as good as any combination within the league [with Gregus and Alonso],” said Heath. “They can do a bit of everything. They cover ground, they're good on the ball, they've got good range of passing, good continuity players. The ball never goes to them and you fear that they're going to turn it over in dangerous areas. Got really good defensive responsibilities. They're going to be a huge plus for us moving forward.”
Some things in San Jose are new (Head Coach Matias Almeyda, who joins the team after winning the CONCACAF Champions League with Guadalajara) and some things are old (Chris Wondolowski, who is two goals away from breaking Landon Donovan’s all-time MLS goal record), but the major question in 2019 is how the Quakes can improve on a disappointing 2018 season. And while their season opening 2-1 loss to the Montreal Impact at home was rough, they showed flashes, particular on defense where their aggressive off-ball man-marking did a lot to stymie the Impact and made for a lot of one-on-one battles.
“It's strange because we've played quite well against San Jose and lost both games last year,” said Heath. “We maybe owe them one. I know looking at Almeyda's quotes that they'll be really disappointed with losing the home opener and they'll realize that this is another opportunity. We know it's not going to be easy, none of the games on the road are. I want us to approach the game with the same intensity and enthusiasm and desire that we did this weekend. If we do, I'll take whatever result comes our way.”
MNUFC will certainly be encouraged by the fact that no player was playing way over their heads in the win and several are likely to improve with time and experience. As Gregus, Opara and Alonso get more comfortable, look for the connections to strengthen and the tactics to get crispier. Although there will surely be bumps in the road ahead, collecting six points or even four from the first two games of the season on the road would be a welcome start.
Minnesota United’s next game is on Saturday, March 16 against Los Angeles Galaxy at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson. That game gets underway at 9:30 p.m. CT with pregame coverage beginning at 9:00 p.m. on FOX Sports North+, streaming on FOX Sports GO and on MNUFC Radio on SKOR North.
Minnesota United FC
- OUT: M - Kevin Molino (left knee injury)
San Jose Earthquakes
- OUT: D - Kevin Partida (torn ACL)
- Darwin Quintero had two assists in Week One against Vancouver Whitecaps FC. He is tied for the most assists in the league. It was his first multi-assist performance since September 22, 2018.
- Francisco Calvo continued his scoring run from the end of the 2018 season, with three goals in his last two games.
- Quintero is on a three-game point streak, stretching back to October 21.
- Quintero scored one of just two successful penalties across the league in the first week of the season.
- Vito Mannone earned his first win with MNUFC against Vancouver.
- Romario Ibarra scored the game-winning goal and earned an assist against Whitecaps FC. It was his first game-winner since coming to MNUFC.
- Prior to Saturday’s game, Romario had not gotten on the scoresheet since September 22.
- Osvaldo Alonso, Jan Gregus, Ike Opara, Romain Metanire and Mannone made their MNUFC debuts in Week One.
- Quintero and Calvo were named to the MLS Team of the Week for their Week 1 performances.
- MNUFC has yet to beat San Jose in MLS play. The Quakes have won all four meetings and scored three goals in each of the last three.
- Minnesota’s next goal will be its 100th in MLS.
- San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski is two goals away from breaking Landon Donovan’s all-time MLS scoring record of 145 goals. Donovan played for the Quakes from 2001 through 2004.
- Minnesota’s three goals were tied for the second-best total in MLS for Week One.
- The Loons ’15 shots against Vancouver were the 6th most in the league.
- Both MNUFC and San Jose committed 17 fouls in their opening games, tying them for the second-most in MLS behind New England’s 24.
- Anibal Godoy is the most-fouled player (11) and has committed the most fouls (8) in the all-time series with San Jose.
- Kevin Molino and Danny Hoesen both scored two goals in Minnesota’s first meeting against San Jose in 2018. Both are the highest single-game totals in the all-time series between the teams.
- Calvo (1G), Ethan Finlay (1G), Molino (2G), Opara (1G/1A) and Rasmus Schuller (1A) all have career points against San Jose.
- Jackson Yueill is a native of Bloomington, Minnesota. He was a teammate of Abu Danladi’s at UCLA from 2015 to 2016.
- Ike Opara was drafted 3rd overall by San Jose in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft. He played three seasons with the Earthquakes.
- There are four Minnesotans combined on the Loons’ and Earthquakes’ squads. Yueill (Bloomington) is joined by Eric Miller (Woodbury), Brent Kallman (Woodbury) and Ethan Finlay (Duluth).
- Minnesota assistant coach Mark Watson has held multiple coaching positions with San Jose. He was an assistant from 2010 to 2013, then took over as interim head coach for the latter part of 2013. Watson was named head coach for the 2014 season.
- Shea Salinas and Michael Boxall played for Vancouver Whitecaps FC in 2011.
- Jimmy Ockford and Osvaldo Alonso were a part of the Seattle Sounders FC organization from 2014 to 2016.