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Earthquakes not worried about slow start after loss to Loons

Prior to Saturday’s match against Minnesota United, the San Jose Earthquakes were discussing on whether or not to go on with the match due to concerns of the spreading coronavirus in the San Francisco Bay Area.

In hindsight, they may have wished that they postponed or cancelled the match following their 5-2 demolition at the hands of the Loons. Yet, despite the second-straight slow start to the season in as many years in the Matias Almeyda era, San Jose isn’t at all worried about earning just one point out of a possible six to open the 2020 campaign.

“It’s a loss, but it’s only the second game of the year,” midfielder Jackson Yueill said after the match. “I think we’re much better than we were last year and we were getting destroyed in the beginning of (2019) and we ended up turning it around.”

Minnesota beat the Earthquakes up and down the pitch Saturday, especially on set pieces. Former Earthquakes defender Ike Opara earned a brace on the day off of a pair of headers from corner kicks as the Loons pressured San Jose’s defensive side throughout the match.

But set pieces in the 18 weren’t San Jose’s lone issue.

San Jose’s backline got smoked for a pair of goals in a six-minute span midway through the first half. The first came in the 26th minute when Jan Gregus beat both Magnus Eriksson and Nick Lima into the 18 before be fired a rocket of a shot past Daniel Vega. The second of the two came off of a perfect cross from Kevin Molino to Luis Amarilla, who headed it home in the 32nd minute.

Vega had one of his worst games in goal on the night as well as he seemed unable to manage any shot that came his way, nor handle anything Minnesota brought his way in their attacks.

“A football team and any team that wants to fight for important things cannot give away so many defensive mistakes,” Earthquakes head coach Matias Almeyda said. “So, the loss is fine today. The players should remember this for the rest of their life. Because, in life, if you make three mistakes a game, you’re being very generous to your opponent, and it’s impossible to win in football that way.

“You cannot make so many mistakes.”

Saturday’s 5-2 loss marks the second time in the opening month of the season that the Earthquakes allowed five goals in a loss at home under Matias Almeyda. Last year, at the end of March, they lost 5-0 to LAFC at home.

“Every game is important and we feel that we let points slip these last two games,” forward Chris Wondolowski said. “We want to go on and get three points, get maximum points whenever we can.

“Tonight, Minnesota took it to us and took advantage, not of our mistakes, but took advantage of their strengths and some things that we worked on that we didn’t take care of.”

Wondolowski also reminded everyone of what happened after a big, similar loss like this happened last year.

“That being said,” he added, “we look at last year and I think in (the first) four games we had zero points. So, we’re way ahead of pace right now.”

If there’s any bright side that can be found in the opening two results of the season, it is in the fact that it came at the hands of a rising playoff and U.S. Open Cup finalist in Minnesota on Saturday, and against the MLS Cup runner-up in Toronto in last week’s draw. At least, that’s what the Earthquakes are falling back on.

“The last two teams (Toronto and Minnesota) have been good teams in the league,” Yueill said. “They have size, they have quality, they have good work rate, and I think through most of this game, we were there.

“I think this is just the start for us, and there’s a lot of room to improve. But there’s a lot of games to do that.”

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