The Turlock-based San Jose Earthquakes U23 squad lost, 2-0, in their home debut against the OC Pateadores Blues of Irvine on Saturday night at Warrior Stadium in a Southwest Division clash.
The club, which is made up primarily of Division I college athletes, entertained a gathering of over 300 fans with a high-quality game, despite failing to convert or capitalize any of its chances.
The chances were there, but the finishing wasn't. That is, except for the nine opportunities. In other words, the score did not define the game.
“I counted five one-on-ones with their goalie, nine quality chances and seven really high-quality chances,” said Quakes’ head coach Dana Taylor. “It defines the game and it doesn’t.”
In the ninth minute, the Blues scored the first goal when Christian Gonzalez converted a rebound after a shot off the post by Jake Stenberg.
“When everyone feels tight, the problem of finishing comes up. It’s not that we can’t finish, the guys score goals for their colleges. What it comes down to is that everybody is a little tight. Then you’re down 1-0 and the play gets even tighter.”
Quickly after the Blues first goal, the Quakes defense tightened up and dominated play, swarming the ball offensively and pushing forward with their attackers. But the Blues defense continued to drop nine players near the penalty area every time the Quakes cradled their way up.
In the 23rd and 24th minute of play the Quakes dropped two key opportunities when Julio Cervantes missed a one touch shot that zipped past the opposing keepers' hands. That was followed by a Luiz Martinez header that clanked off the top of the cross bar from 14 yards out.
After the slow start, the Earthquakes U23 team began to mesh and play—well—like a team as they finished the game with 13 shots to the Blues' 8.
“Were such a young, new team. Everybody is expecting somebody else to do that one thing that teams who play together for years just instinctively do,” said Taylor.
Six more open chances nearly struck the net before the first half ended.
The Blues played the majority of the second half content with the score 1-0, with their back line suffocating the Quakes' offense.
The Blues put away the win in the 85th minute off a stolen throw-in when Tre Hayes, a 6-foot-5 forward, jammed in a cross from Jae Kim.
“We have to keep working towards the slow start, keep getting better at that, I think what you see, with a team that hasn’t been together long, they can really move the ball,” Taylor said.
The Quakes (0-3-2) will play their next three games at home, with the next two contests at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
They currently sit in fifth place with only two points to show in five contests.