Having been appointed as Manager of San Jose Earthquakes, I quickly delved into the transfer market. Three players (Bulgarian winger Todor Nedelev, South African defensive midfielder Thato Mokeke and further midfield steel in New Zealander Matthew Ridenton) were snapped up on free transfers. They’d compliment a youthful squad. A couple of players were allowed to go the other way including club stalwart Tommy Thompson. Whilst this didn’t go down well with the fans, I thought that it was only fair to allow him to have a crack at English football. With Luton Town offering $900k, we just couldn’t say no!
In pre-season, we reached the final of the North America All Stars Cup, losing 1-0 in the final having been reduced to ten men. Then, it was onto the MLS proper…
We defeated Montreal Impact (Who failed to make an impact!) 1-0 in our opening match of the season. Impressive Brazilian midfielder Judson scored the decisive goal. We then lost 1-0 to Minnesota but were unlucky to have a goal narrowly chalked off for offside. Then a thriller in New York. Argentine frontman Andres Rios, brought into the side at the expense of Dutchman Danny Hoesen, was unfortunate to have a goal disallowed for offside (Again!) but Swede Magnus Eriksoon soon put us 1-0 up. The home side levelled before half-time and despite being reduced to ten men early in the second half, went 2-1 up. Rios missed a sitter that could’ve brought us level but showed great character to create the equaliser for Georgian winger Vako only minutes later. With the match destined to finish all square, New York scored courtesy of a deflected header from a corner with just two minutes to go. As with the second goal, goalkeeper and captain Vega didn’t cover himself in glory! We ultimately went down 3-2 despite playing most of the second half with a man advantage. Whilst a second straight defeat was hugely frustrating, the match showcased what the MLS has to offer.
We went a goal to the good against LAFC but a shocking concession of possession from Judson resulted in an equaliser for experienced Mexican striker Carlos Vela. For the second match in a row, we would concede a late winner, Vela again, to leave myself and the players exasperated.
We were then the dumped out of the US Open Cup by Sporting KC. 2-0 down at the interval, we missed a couple of great chances, eventually pulled a goal back through Luis Felipe and thought that we’d equalised at the death, only for our trend of disallowed offside goals to continue!
We managed to stop the rot with a 0-0 draw against Portland Timbers. This time we were the beneficiaries of an early goal being disallowed for offside. We then spent the entire 90 minutes peppering Houston Dynamo’s goal only to draw 0-0 once again. The image at the top of this post rather sums up our efforts in front of goal!
The goals did come back against Sporting KC but once again we’d blow it! We fell behind but Argentine wideman Cristian Espinoza brought us level. Again we conceded but Andres Rios levelled with thirteen minutes on the clock. Teenage attacking midfielder Siad Haji, who’d deposed Eriksson in the team, then gave the ball away when a successful pass could’ve meant a winning goal. As it was, Kansas went down the other end and subjected us to another late losing goal.
Our poor run of results left us eighth in the Western Conference with only 5 points from seven matches. Things needed to change and fast!