The San Jose Earthquakes take more with less

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By Tony Edwards - San Jose, CA (Mar 13, 2014) US Soccer Players - Soccer stats are supposed to tell a particular story. The team that has the edge on possession should be the one dominating the offense. That’s not how it works out sometimes, with the San Jose Earthquakes providing the latest counter scenario. Against Toluca in the CONCACAF Champions League, San Jose had all of 35% of the possession. Somehow, they used every percentage point by taking 20 shots.

How did the San Jose Earthquakes have only 35% possession, but 20 shots?

San Jose should have won their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal first-leg outright. Despite Toluca’s domination of possession, San Jose, especially in the second-half, was the more effective team. Every Earthquake forward will feel they should have done better Tuesday night.

Maybe it is unlikely, but it’s not too difficult to see San Jose leaving Mexico with a berth in the semifinals. Having Clarence Goodson back and two games under their belt (they open their season against Salt Lake on Saturday), San Jose is likely to play better and convert more of its chances. They’re also likely to want to answer a complaint levelled at them by Toluca coach Jose Cardozo.

“I don't think our rival was actually attacking,” Cardozo said. “They were just shooting at the goal.”

What are we taking away from Sporting Kansas City’s victory over Cruz Azul?

Efficient and mostly composed, perhaps not the hallmarks of Sporting Kansas City but an asset nonetheless. Ike Opara putting in a fine performance certainly helped. Maybe a little good fortune also, but calls or non-calls aren’t the reason games are won or lost.

I’m just going to point out that there were 41 fouls and only 11 shots in this game. I don’t expect Kansas City to park the bus in Mexico City. However, to expect them to come out blazing only means you haven’t been paying attention.

Is Mike Petke getting enough credit for the Red Bulls’ success?

We all know that even with the much-hyped stability supposedly shown this offseason, the Red Bulls bench hasn’t been a comfortable place for a coach’s reputation. Now, after leading the Red Bulls to actual MLS silverware (that trophy in Arsenal’s preseason tournament doesn’t count), the franchise announced Petke had agreed to an extension. “Per team policy, specific terms of the deal were not disclosed.” Congratulations to the former USMNT player, who has earned the extension and the chance to build the team.

You can see where Petke and Andy Roxburgh, Red Bull’s sporting director, are coming from in not making too many changes in the offseason. It’s a different year and successful teams evolve. We’ll see how much evolution has gone in New Jersey, especially on the backline.

How many games are on the MLS schedule this weekend?

Only one, right, Seattle-Toronto on national cable on Saturday, every other team has the weekend off. What? There’s actually eight games this weekend including the Red Bulls’ home opener, San Jose – Real Salt Lake, and Kansas City hosting Dallas.

It’s unfortunate that there’s only one national English-language game this weekend. With the league apparently limiting their Direct Kick option to one of the satellite providers, those interested can sign up for the watch on your computer option.

Of course, you can always watch ‘MLS Match of the Day,’ the recap program… oh, maybe that’s in the new television contract.

Portland is a possession-oriented team, right?

So why, according to Whoscored.com, did they have the most long balls last week, with 75. There’s the obvious answer in the game situation. More interestingly, Columbus had the most short passes, with 457, or a mere 198 more than Chicago had last weekend. Coming from a guy who has watched Frank Yallop coached teams in San Jose for years, maybe Fire fans should get used to their team not connecting with a ton of short passes each game.


Tony Edwards is a soccer writer from the Bay Area.

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