Things looked so good for the Earthquakes just a few days ago.
After gaining four points in their last two games on the road, San Jose (2-3-6) season looked like they were back on track, only four points back of a playoff spot, and hosting the worst team in the league, based on points.
But all that precious momentum was reduced to smoldering rubble in about 35 minutes, as the Quakes found themselves down by three goals before ultimately losing to D.C United (2-2-5) 3-1 on Saturday night, continuing their home woes.
Forward Chirs Wondolowski expressed his sympathies to the home crowd:
“It hurts, the losses like tonight, I don’t think its fair to the fans and to be honest, we are a little bit embarrassed.”
Head coach Mikael Stahre said:
“We came out well this week, we had two good games out on the road, so we’re really really disappointed after this poor performance. Obviously, there was some bad decisions from the coach, the line up, some technical things. We conceded 3 goals in the first half and it was absolutely disastrous. So my bad.”
Early on. San Jose kept most of the ball, probing and prodding with passes along the back three, trying to figure out a rhythm to the match. That possession led to a couple of nice plays and dangerous moves, but the Quakes could not find a way to execute the last pass or get a shot off when they got themselves into the final third. That inefficiency would come back to cost the Quakes in a big way.
Wondolowski, who started on the bench had a first-hand view of it:
“Its tough to watch, tough to see us go through it. It’s tough because we play well at times, string together a couple of passes, and then we kind of had a self-inflicting wound and next thing you know we are digging ourselves out of a hole chasing the game. The final finish was missing. We were able to create some chances and create some pressure on [D.C.] but I still think in the final third we need to be sharper and execute a little bit better.”
Despite conceding early possession, D.C. United scored the first goal, taking the lead in the 14th minute.
Luciano Acosta picked up two assists, and must have had a birds’ eye view to not only spot midfielder Zoltan Stieber looking to make a run, but also to ping a pass over the San Jose defense.
Stieber, who somehow managed to stay just a hair onside after sneaking behind the San Joseback line, put himself in front of the defender, won a foot race, then placed the ball into the lower left corner of the net to open the scoring.
Five minutes later, D.C. United would double their lead after — stop me if you’ve heard this before —another bad giveaway, an Achilles heel for the Quakes this season.
An errant pass intended for midfielder Jackson Yueill was intercepted by Acosta. From there, the Argentinian midfielder picked out forward Darren Mattocks run inside the box. Mattocks calmly slotted home a shot in a nearly identical spot as the first goal.
On the goals, forward Magnus Eriksson said:
“We concede a lot of goals at the moment. Its our fault most of the time. We need to be better than that, we have a great goal keeper in [Andrew] Tarbell and we don’t help him at all. As a unit we need to be better. We have to stay positive.”
Two goals against the run of play stunned both the home crowd and the San Jose players, as frustration visibly mounted among the players on the pitch.
The Quakes, however, dug in and sustained another period of possession. Midfielder Valeri ‘Vako’ Qazaishvili earned a free kick eight yards outside of the box, giving the Quakes their best chance at goal. Chris Wehan, making his first start in defense as a wing back, just missed, maneuvering the ball just over the bar.
In the 37th minute, another mistake deep in San Jose’s own territory led to D.C.’s third and final goal of the night.
Center back Jimmy Ockford, making his second start of the season, received the pass but was immediately put under a massive amount of pressure from D.C. midfielder Paul Arriola. Arriola gained possession of the ball and found a running Yamil Asad just outside and to the left of the box. Asad opened up his body so that he could place a right-footed shot into the bottom right corner of the goal, essentially ending the game.
On the goals, coach Stahre said:
“I think we lost the ball too easily in the middle of the field. We lost the ball twice and that’s how we conceded the second and third goals. We came out totally wrong, we made some mistakes with the ball, we couldn’t press them good enough, they could easily find the spaces behind us. To be frank they were just better than us tonight.”
The Quakes would do well to get one back right before the half to make the score 3-1, but it would not be nearly enough. Wehan’s entry pass into the box found Danny Hoesen before the forward managed a shot on goal through traffic that was blocked at first. The rebound bounced straight to him, enabling Hoesen to scoop the ball into an open net for his team-leading seventh goal of the season.
The second half was just a formality. The Quakes failed to get decent chances, even after subbing Wondolowski. D.C. United controlled the play for most of the half, almost adding to their lead if not for a few nice saves from Quakes keeper Andrew Tarbell and a clearance off the line from defender Nick Lima.
The Quakes will have to recover and put this game behind them facing a short week. San Jose will travel down the coast for the first California Classico of the season when they take on The LA Galaxy (3-1-6) at the StubHub Center Friday. Two more days of rest could prove crucial, especially since the Quakes don’t have a midweek game, and the Galaxy play Monday.