You wouldn’t know that New England has spent most of the season as the class of the league and San Jose has spent most of the year as the worst team in the league based on their meeting on Saturday. The revamped Earthquakes thrashed a short-handed Revs side 4-0 to serve notice that their drive for a playoff spot isn’t an exercise in futility.
Ronnie O’Brien awoke from a season-long slumber to notch two goals (one more than he had all season beforehand) as the Earthquakes overwhelmed a Revs side missing Shalrie Joseph (suspension) and Michael Parkhurst (returning from Olympics). The win pulls San Jose within four points of the pack chasing the final MLS playoff spots.
SBI correspondents Kevin Matthiessen and Andrew Karl took in the blowout and shared their views on the match with us:
Earthquakes dominate, keep playoff hopes alive
By KEVIN MATTHIESSEN
The San Jose Earthquakes put on a clinic against the league leading New England Revolution on Saturday night at Buck Shaw Stadium. Everyone except the Revolution players and staff came away happy, refreshed, and quite giddy.
Many a lost bay area soccer soul were repaired on this night as the Earthquakes cut through an undermanned Revolution side with surgical precision. It’s almost as if us fans were finally awoken from our comas after getting run over during the playoffs of 2005 by the moving trucks carrying Quakes gear, Quakes players, and buckets of orange paint.
Lead surgeon, Darren Huckerby, led his team by example and made the right side of New England look like Harlem Globetrotters opponents. Seriously, snap shots of Huckerby blowing by an opponent leaving his defender lying on the ground are becoming commonplace in the post game photo galleries on centerlinesoccer.com.
As Troy Dayak said during the broadcast, Darren Huckerby was the smartest guy on the field. No, he doesn’t have the highest IQ nor the most diplomas (actually I don’t really have any idea), he simply proves it by providing results. He’s not the fastest guy out there nor does he have a bunch of flashy stepover-type moves. He just manages to blow by defenders all game long. Maybe it’s magic. Maybe it’s voodoo. Heck, maybe it’s something extra terrestrial.
Yeah that must explain it. I can see it now. Cue the opening credits. It’s a misty English morning. A young boy with a faux-hawk is juggling his soccer ball in a vacant lot by himself while, flash, a glowing unidentified flying object lands right next to him…
Not only was Huckerby brilliant, practically the whole team was. If it wasn’t for a hospital ball back pass to Joe Cannon by Francisco Lima, it would have been a completely gaffe-free night. And us ‘Quakes fans know that’s hard to come by. Lady Luck was on our side as well. In fact, she started working her magic last Saturday night when Shalrie Joseph got a red card vs. Chicago. Then she worked her magic with the cross-turned-shot off Ronnie O’Brien’s foot for that first goal. Or was it the wind?
The Ramiro Corrales-Francisco Lima central midfield engine room seems like it is starting to work quite well. It looks as though Lima is taking a more attacking approach leaving Ramiro with the brunt of defensive responsibility. I think they only ran into each other once. They weren’t flashy or dazzling but they got the job done.
Scott Sealy got his first as an Earthquake, Ryan Johnson got another, and Ronnie O’Brien showed he can use his left foot for something other than standing, running or doing the jig. The whole team showed us the beautiful game as it should be played. There was some brilliant switching play (see Huckerby again), majestic defense runs forth and back (see Eric Denton), and superb goalkeeping. Communication has improved dramatically and overall they played smart.
Now hopefully we’ll see more of the same while the Earthquakes continue to make a run for the final spots in the playoffs.
Revs lose hold on first place after blowout
By ANDREW KARL
A perfect storm of bad timing has knocked the Revolution from first place. It wasn’t bad timing that scored 4 goals against New England on Saturday night; each of those was well taken and beautifully set up. The Olympics, Shalrie Joseph’s silly red card, and MLS scheduling all worked against the Revs, who after Saturday night sit in second place.
On only 3 days rest, a tired and dwindled New England squad missing key starters like Joseph and Michael Parkhurst was handed a severe beating by the Earthquakes. How come San Jose had to get their act together just before we play them? How come the Olympics, a silly red card-worthy play by Shalrie, and recent injuries had to compound the team’s troubles on one fixture? The only answer I can find: because the football gods said so.
For many fans, the beautiful game is not just an interest or a hobby; it’s a passion and an obsession. You can definitely count me as one of these fans. We follow the game so passionately because it is something much more than a game to us. For me, the game represents a form of escapism. Each time the Revolution play I am gifted 90 glorious minutes of not having to think about it all. Worries at work, problems with the girlfriend, and the like are all burdens that I get to completely ignore for the duration of the game.
Maybe it’s because of this kind of connection to the game that some fans (possibly maybe sometimes including me) take the game a bit too seriously. We let our guard down during a match, letting emotion spill out while taking every little call or foul as a personal insult. In the case of Saturday night, the word ‘disappointment’ just doesn’t cut it.
The rigors of the work week feel so unrewarded when the Revs take a hit like this. A loss in which the New England defense was repeatedly torn to shreds and the offense couldn’t find net comes with zero positives, in fact the negatives abound. What’s that, Reis injury status is unclear? There’s another one. The worst part is waking up Sunday morning, remembering that the team lost, and then realizing that it’s Sunday and you have precious few hours before having to return to work tomorrow.
In the end, it’s the fanatic in me that overlooks the fact that this was a severely depleted Revolution team out there. This loss to a recently revamped San Jose squad won’t be much but a blip on the radar come the end of the season. With Shalrie Joseph and Michael Parkhurst returning to action this week, coupled with the return from injury of Taylor Twellman and the recent signing of Gabriel Badilla, I’m sure this loss to the Quakes will be quickly forgotten. Wins against DC on Wednesday and Toronto on Saturday (fixtures which I’ve already prayed to the football gods about) will help very much.