Quakes wiggle out a draw at home against Sporting Kansas City

It’s here: the mid-season grind where rotations get switched, players get injured or suspended and the looming arrival of international tournaments casts its shadow. And historically, in past seasons this is where the Quakes either tank it or just manage enough to survive.

The Earthquakes face a three game round at home, starting off this past Wednesday with a U.S. Open Cup match against the new kids of the pro-soccer pyramid, the S.F. Deltas. And in his second game of the week, Quakes keeper David Bingham has a great deal to be proud of. He kept the Western Conference’s top dog, Sporting Kansas City, to a draw over a lethargic but competitive 94 minutes of play on a hot summer day in San Jose.

With injuries and suspensions, the regular starting line-up saw some changes. Two big ones stand-out: rookie Jackson Yueill made his MLS debut and Andres Imperiale had his first full game in the entire season. Yueill, who had his club debut against the Deltas on Wednesday, made some great passes and plays against Sporting Kansas City. Andres Imperiale spent a difficult 90 minutes keeping the game as a draw.

It’s not by choice: SKC brought its entire starting eleven with players like Zusi, Dwyer, Feilhaber, Besler and others. The Quakes enter the match against SKC with a 24 win, 24 draw and seven loss record against the Midwestern team, only losing five of their previous games against Sporting at home. They have a home record 16-5-6 with the away scales leaning towards losses. The last time the two clubs met on March 18 San Jose lost at Children’s Mercy Park 2-1.

Let’s just say it out-loud: first half play wasn’t there. There were lobbed balls from halfway across the pitch, attempts to try and change the play or keep movement alive by bombarding it over the entire SKC line-up. As a result, accuracy and possession just wasn’t there in the first half: 40% for the Quakes and 60% for Sporting. Accuracy dwindled down to 74%. The Quakes had zero shots in that entire half and zero corners.

Even with a minute added after the first half ended, the Quakes couldn’t capitalize. Very little changed for the second half, even if the Quakes came out swinging and did their a good amount of missing. They got great shots on goal, some possible contenders for GOTW had they resulted in a point. But every attempt happened to fall short. Tim Melia countered Bingham’s game with zero goals conceded and two blocked shots in total. Both teams could not get a decent glance at the goal, and with exception to a late minute run by Graham Zusi where he dribbled his way past the entire Quakes defense and nearly scored, the game was a middling tug-of-war to see who could tank the hardest.

Quakes head coach Dominic Kinnear didn’t quite celebrate the draw, but did express a bit of satisfaction at holding the visiting team to a draw and emphasized that a lot of the players on the rotation today “did not have a lot of minutes” to begin with.

“I mean they [Sporting Kansas City] had the better chances overall throughout the game,we had some good moments I think. Our final ball was off today”, Kinnear said. “You always want more when you’re playing.

The good:

Jackson Yueill had a great couple of minutes, looked great on the ball and made a rousing set of plays. The 20 year old draftee looked as creative as Tommy Thompson, which is great for the team in need of creative play-makers. It’s conceivable that Yueill will see more playtime over the summer as international call-ups shake the roster up and the coaching staff get creative.

“I think from the beginning of the year everyone has had a lot of confidence in me, so it just helps me keep getting better and better. The older players, the veterans and the coaches have been really talking to me, helping me in practice and its been really beneficial to my game,” Yueill said.

Added into the rotation was Andres Imperiale, who had a  great game, earning 90 minutes of defensive play. Imperiale had not played in the entire 2017 season and had his first start today with 9 tackles, one foul won and three conceded.

Imperiale had his dry spell end with a full game appearance against SKC, totalling 959 minutes with the Quakes since he arrived in 2016. Along with Victor Bernardez he kept the back line in a loose control, but staved off any goals from the top team in the West and managed to avoid giving any penalties. Talking to reporters, he said, “it’s been a difficult season for me because I haven’t had many minutes but I was always ready in case they gave me a chance with the team on the field. It’s my job to be ready.”

What’s next?

The Quakes host another Western Conference rival on June 24th, facing Kyle Bekkerman’s Real Salt Lake and go against coastal rival Seattle Sounders FC as they battle in the U.S. Open Cup round of 16 on June 28th at home.

Then, come July 1st the LA Galaxy return the Bay for Cali Clasico at Stanford Stadium, followed by a July 4th match against Atlanta United and a friendly against mid-level Bundesliga team Eintracht Frankfurt on July 14th.


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