By Arthur Wilkie
SAN JOSE, Calif. – The Avaya Stadium public address announcer told the crowd before the San Jose Earthquakes game against Seattle Sounders FC that longtime fan Krazy George would be unable to attend the game due to a commitment with his “modeling agency.”
Whether or not there was any truth to that, the Quakes played a video message that Krazy George had recorded earlier in the week. In it, he urged the fans to get crazy for the home team and banged his drum to lead them in his customary “EARTH-QUAKES” chant.
Krazy George, as rare as it is for him to miss an opportunity to cheer on his beloved club, might be glad he had other plans.
In fact, one might imagine anything would be better than watching the Quakes go winless for the 11th straight game in a row.
The 2018 San Jose Earthquakes have now failed to score in their last 183 minutes of MLS play. Throwing in the friendly against Manchester United on Sunday, that’s 273 minutes.
Moreover, San Jose has only scored one goal in the last 291 minutes of MLS play. That was Florian Jungwirth in the 87th minute at Portland nearly three weeks ago. Before that? Chris Wondolowski’s 69th minute equalizer in the Cali Clasico against LA Galaxy in late June.
The Earthquakes had their chances in the first half hour of the game, capitalizing on the poor play of an indecisive and uncomfortable Seattle right back in Jordan McCrary. Jamir Hyka and Quakes veteran Shea Salinas, playing makeshift left back, looked to have a field day on their runs up the left wing, putting in dangerous crosses but never quite being on the same page with Dutch frontman Danny Hoesen.
Though San Jose was creating more pressure, more of the quality chances were being put together by the Sounders attack. It was one man that was pulling the strings for the visitors: first-time MLS starter Raul Ruidiaz, the dynamic attacker recently named Seattle’s newest designated player. Just seconds into the match, Ruidiaz nearly caught the Quakes off guard by turning a pass from Nouhou Tolo into a left-footed shot from the top of the box that was just wide of Andrew Tarbell’s far post.
Seattle again created a chance against the run of play in the 20th minute, when Harry Shipp had a shot blocked by the Quakes defense only to rebound to a wide-open Ruidiaz near the six-yard box. Tarbell was able to react quickly and make the save by sticking his leg out to clear the ball, but the momentum started to shift in the Sounders’ favor.
At the end of the first half and the beginning of the second period of play, the pace of the game slowed down greatly save for a pair of shots from Vako and Nicolas Lodeiro, neither giving the opposition much difficulty. MLS debutant Luis Felipe picked up the first yellow card of the game in the 38th minute for his tackle on Lodeiro and the energy that the Quakes had early in the game had disappeared.
Then, things went from bad to worse.
In the 62nd minute a misplaced backpass from Hoesen led to a Seattle counter attack quarterbacked by Lodeiro, the Uruguayan sending a pass out to a streaking Cristian Roldan on his right. The Seattle midfielder sent in a cross to Ruidiaz that he was able to swiftly chest down and position himself to slot the ball past the outstretched right hand of Tarbell, while Harold Cummings and MLS newcomer Guram Kashia could only watch it zoom past them towards the far post.
On the Earthquakes’ World Cup Night, where you could look down from any high point in the stadium and pick out several clusters of white shirts with red sashes- the familiar look of the Peruvian national team’s jerseys- it was only fitting that Lima native Ruidiaz was the one to punish the Earthquakes for their inefficiency.
Vako and Quincy Amarikwa, who came on for Danny Hoesen, brought some much-needed creativity and urgency to the squad in the second half, but it wasn’t enough to craft a play that could beat the flawless Stefan Frei.
Seattle looked lifeless at times, but they were still able to weather the early storm and get past the Quakes, which has all too often been the story of the 2018 season for the black and blue.
Clint Dempsey nearly doubled the scoreline with a shot towards an empty net after Tarbell had come up to be an extra man on a corner in added time, but he hit the post on what was the final kick of the game in what was Seattle’s fifth straight game unbeaten.
The Quakes will take the moral victories of a half hour of solid attacking play and a suddenly solid backline to their matchup against Real Salt Lake on Saturday night at Avaya Stadium.