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Exhausted Earthquakes squeak by Real Salt Lake, but depth is getting tested

The San Jose Earthquakes have been praised all over for their fitness that they’ve put on display throughout the last three months, turning around their season.

But fatigue may finally be hitting an Earthquakes side that is halfway through a stretch of eight games in four weeks.

Despite grabbing a win and a crucial three points in Saturday night’s 1-0 win over Real Salt Lake, the Earthquakes looked sluggish and tired, not surprising after playing three matches in the last week – they lost 3-0 at Minnesota on Wednesday night after defeating the L.A. Galaxy the Saturday before in the Cali Clasico at Stanford Stadium.

“We knew that we had as many games,” head coach Matias Almeyda said after Saturday’s win. “They knew 10 minutes into the second half we’re going to make subs – I already spoke about it with them.

“But as a coach, you never know what subs you’re going to make. Now a lot of people are going to have a day off after a long time, and we’ll get ready for the game that’s coming up, which is going to be hard as well.”

Despite what looked like a tired Earthquakes team on the pitch on Saturday, RSL head coach Mike Petke said that San Jose “has energy,” and went on to praise Almeyda for his coaching effort so far as well.

“They have energy,” Petke said of San Jose. “That’s the first difference from last year. They have a lot of energy and a clear understanding of their roles.

“(Almeyda) is obviously a great coach and he has them rolling right now,” he added about Almeyda. “This is MLS. They started off not to well and everybody wrote them off, and he comes back and he does what, obviously, he’s capable of because he’s a great coach.”

The Earthquakes still have three matches left in this current stretch, starting at the L.A. Galaxy on Friday. They’ll have a sort-of week off when they take on Real Valladolid of Spain’s La Liga four days later, followed by a match at the Vancouver Whitecaps the following Saturday.

Given the run that the Earthquakes are currently on, they’re not worried about the tight schedule, packed full of matches. They want to get back out on the pitch and keep their run going.

“When you play good, you want to get out there again and just continue playing,” Earthquakes forward Magnus Eriksson said. “I mean we played four games and 11 days which is pretty rare. We don’t use that to do that too often. But I mean we have trained really hard.”

San Jose is unbeaten in seven of their last eight matches, pushing them back above the playoff line. If the playoffs were to start next week, the Earthquakes would host Houston in the wild-card game.

The Earthquakes are expected to get a good chunk of reinforcements in the coming week. Nick Lima and Harold Cummings are expected back with the team after their Gold Cup duties with the USMNT and Panama, respectively, and newly-signed Carlos Fierro is expected to debut soon as well.”


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