San Jose played Toluca on Wednesday night. This is important because they may well come into this game battle-weary and without some of their regular starters since they have their second leg of the CONCACAF Champions League game against Toluca again this Wednesday. It’s also important because the Earthquakes looked like crap on Wednesday.
If any ‘Quakes fans read this blog, they’d probably give me flack but that’s okay. I watched that game. Even the ‘Quakes fans who commented on the recap of the game on mlssoccer.com appeared to not have watched that game. Toluca completely dominated possession and dictated the entire game. Were it not for a goonies-style stoppage time goal off a set piece by Alan Gordon, Toluca would have walked away with a win.
Don’t get me wrong, the Earthquakes looked dangerous the entire game on set pieces. But the rest of the game it looked like they just didn’t have their team together yet. That game was their first regular season game, after all, having had a bye last week. Now they go into a 3 games in 7 days stretch playing Toluca, RSL and Toluca again. Meanwhile, for most of the game, it appeared as if Toluca was playing for a 0-0 draw — they weren’t starting their regular first team players — toying with the Quakes like a cat playing with a mouse before it gets bored and sticks its claw in.
Here’s the thing that really gets me about that goal, though. The Earthquakes have this routine where someone will go down for a foul. They’ll set up the free kick, do a little bit of misdirection, and take the FK before the other team is ready. I watched them do this at Rio Tinto last year and they pulled off the same performance on Wednesday. It’s a little bit of trickery and, were it not for that, they absolutely would have lost that match. It’s a foul, foul way of playing if you have to resort to tactics like that to get a point. And by the end of the match, they had thrown on 5 strikers, literally doing everything they could to get a goal.
Based on Wednesday’s showing then, and knowing they have another leg away from home in the CCL, I can’t be too worried about today’s matchup against RSL. The ‘Quakes will be worried about besting the Mexican side on Wednesday and likely be resting up at least some of their regular starters (expect to see Wondo regardless).
Meanwhile, RSL has started their season off with a road win against the Galaxy despite the absences of Chris Schuler and Robbie Findley. All RSL needs to do is play the same game they did in Carson at Buck Shaw and they will come away with 3 points. I’m far more concerned about Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane and their new striker on loan Samuel than I am of Wondo, Gordon and Lenhart — if indeed the three of them are on the pitch at the same time.