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Turlock Quakes show vast improvement, but still fall short
Look for win at home opener at Warrior Stadium
Quakes pic
The U23 San Jose Earthquakes PDL team's first home game against the OC Blues will start at 7 p.m. Saturday at Warrior Stadium in Turlock. - photo by Journal file photo

The members of Turlock's U23 San Jose Earthquakes PDL team anxiously await their home opener this Saturday at California State University, Stanislaus' Warrior Stadium, and hope that it will bring them a win. The Quakes are coming off a four-game road trip, with no wins to show for it.

After two ties in the first week of play, the Quakes traveled to Utah to look for a win as they faced BYU on May 17 in their third contest where, instead of victory, they picked up their first loss of the season, 1-2.

They returned to action this past Friday night against el Fuego at Fresno, despite their tremendous upside and strong play, the Quakes still couldn't manage to come away with a score and let a late goal in the closing seconds make the score 0-2 as they dropped their second straight game of the season.

"We pulled some great, hard-fought results under the circumstances and I am very proud of the guys. We bonded together and played hard," SJ Earthquakes PDL head coach Dana Taylor said. "The last two outings, we really had a lot of good opportunities to get some goals. We possessed the ball better than the week before."

With the two losses under their belt, the Quakes fell to a 0-2-2 record but if they can pick up a win this Saturday they will be right back into the mix with five points.

"I want to stress we have 38 new guys all coming together who basically didn't know each other when season started and they are finally playing a lot better now," said Taylor. "We just have so many new guys, all these league teams have been together for years."

In the BYU game, the team started off slow with some questionable calls as there was a penalty kick called in the seventh minute and the Cougars went up 1-0, not even 10 minutes into the first half.

The second score came the Cougars way not even 15 minutes later to go up 2-0 against the Quakes.

Finally, by the 25th minute, the Quakes' Mikey Minutillo, who recently graduated from Penn State, captured the team's only goal after Max Oldham (Cal Berkeley) assisted Minutillo with a pass about five yards out as the ball went underneath the goalie's arm.

From that point on, the Quakes played very well, but they just couldn't pull away with a tying score.

"By that time, we took over the game but that was towards the end and I think we stepped up to that challenge and moved it up well into the game. We just couldn't find the back of the net," said Taylor.

Prior to Friday night's game against el Fuego, the Turlock U23 Quakes had sent six of their starters to Stanford Stadium to scrimmage the United States Men's National Soccer team on Friday morning and they still started and played at Fresno—basically making it two games played in less than a 24-hour period.

Despite playing with some fatigue, the Quakes came out firing against Fresno from start to finish.

El Fuego scored with about 15 minutes left to play in the first half and the strong Quakes defense was able to hold off the Fuego—until the stoppage time.

At the 90 minute mark the ball hit the back of the net after a ball deflected into the Fuego's possession and forced the Quakes to drop their second straight, despite a great effort on both sides.

"We really came out there and had two very good scoring chances early on," said Taylor about Friday's game against el Fuego. "Their last score doesn't tell the story; we were up and pushing, but we played very well. We were getting the right combination on the pitch, and the most scoring chances we have had. The game could've have easily been 3-3, guys are starting to really become in sync with each other."

The first home game will start at 7 p.m. Saturday against the OC Blues.

"I am excited for this weekend to play OC Blues...We hope to make this a highly competitive game where lots of opportunities are created," Taylor added.

Before the Quakes take the pitch on Saturday, they will hold a practice from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. tonight in Oakdale, followed by an autograph session from 7 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at 7505 Claribel Rd.

Also, to help promote the team in the community, the Quakes will be part of a school assembly at Dutcher Middle School in Turlock from 10a.m. to noon on Thursday.