After such an impressive run of form, the San Jose Earthquakes seem to have hit a rocky patch and lost their second consecutive game Saturday against Sporting Kansas City. Their poor form started with a disappointing 2-1 defeat on the road to the Colorado Rapids and the misery was compounded with this loss in Kansas by the same score line.
Things looked like they were headed back on track for the Quakes when Chris Wondolowski emphatically nodded in a Cristian Espinoza corner on 25 minutes. MLS veteran Benny Feilhaber restored parity just after the half when the ball fell kindly to him at the top of the box for a shot and the victory was sealed for the hosts in the 75th minute when defender Graham Smith tapped from close range after Johnny Russell’s free kick cannoned off the post.
Even after the win, Kansas City still only sit in 10th place, 6 points off a playoff spot in a crowded Western Conference. SKC have been one of the mainstays in the hunt for MLS Cup having qualified for the postseason in 8 consecutive years and even though it looks like that streak may be coming to and end up, Feilhaber assured fans that they will continue to give 100% in every game like they did against San Jose.
“Regardless of whether we make the playoffs or we don’t make the playoffs or we win or lose every game, we want to make sure we show ourselves well for these fans and everyone that’s been part of this organization since it was basically nothing”.
Interestingly, if Sporting KC do manage to finish the season in a playoff position, it may end up being at San Jose’s expense. After failing to win in 3 straight games, Earthquakes are entrenched in a playoff battle which seemed unthinkable a few weeks ago when they began to emerge as the biggest challenger to LAFC in the West.
With an away match against league leaders LAFC next on the agenda for the Quakes, manager Matías Almeyda assessed what went wrong against Kansas City and looked forward to the tough task ahead of his side.
“I think it was an even game. Each team had one half. Even though we had our chances to go up one goal, in the second half they scored more goals than us… all opponents are hard for us and [LAFC] is the one making the biggest difference in the league. We’ve played against them twice and lost twice. We’ll try to do the best that we can”.
One glimmer of hope for San Jose despite the defeat was new signing Andres Rios making his debut and looking lively when he got on the ball. Almeyda will be hoping that Rios can build off his first MLS appearance and make a real difference in the match against LAFC, which is now a must-win for the side from the Bay.