Chris Wondolowski

Almeyda and Schelotto: Two New MLS Coaches and their Distinctive Styles by Anay Patel

Matias Almeyda and Guillermo Barros Schelotto are two of the most experienced managers in MLS history. They are also both just beginning their careers as MLS coaches.

To start his managerial career, Almeyda retired as a player and took over a River Plate side that had been relegated for the first time in club history. Immediately after that season, he led the team back to promotion with a first place finish in the second division. Almeyda did the same with Banfield in Argentina, winning his second Primera B Nacional title. At Chivas Guadalajara in 2015, Almeyda inherited another difficult situation, tasked with bringing the Mexican giant back into the spotlight. With Chivas, Almeyda won Copa MX twice, Supercopa MX, Liga MX, and CONCACAF Champions League. Now, he has embarked on a new journey with the San Jose Earthquakes, who finished in last place in 2018.

After leading the Columbus Crew to an MLS Cup as a player (he won both league MVP and Finals MVP in 2008), Guillermo Barros Schelotto started his managing career with Lanus in Argentina. He led the club to a Copa Sudamericana, the second most prestigious club competition in South America. Schelotto then signed with the club he spent most of his playing career with, Boca Juniors, and led them to two league titles.

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San Jose Earthquakes 2019 Season Preview by Jamon Moore

2018 In Review

 The “wooden spoon” award has its roots in the University of Cambridge. It would be awarded to the student who had the lowest marks but still earned a third-class degree. There are also three degrees in MLS: Those who win silverware, those who make the playoffs, and those who do not make the playoffs. Given MLS does not have relegation, obtaining (I almost said “winning” there) the Wooden Spoon just means one still gets to play the next year at the same level. In 2017, the Independent Supporters Council, who instituted the Wooden Spoon award in 2015, renamed it the Anthony Precourt Memorial Wooden Spoon.

This is not the trophy San Jose Earthquakes General Manager Jesse Fioranelli had in mind at the beginning of 2018. He attempted big splashes, signing Allsvenskan Golden Boot winner Magnus Eriksson as a designated player, a fellow Swede to go along with a “real” manager Mikael Stahre (replacing not-interim/interim first-time coach Chris Leitch), also from the Allsvenskan. In keeping the attacking core from 2017 who helped the team snatch the final playoff spot despite a -21 goal differential, plus adding Eriksson, finally getting Panamanian international Harold Cummings healthy, and adding two more young defenders, Fioranelli bet that would be enough to catapult San Jose higher in the Western Conference. It seems he underestimated the MLS talent level compared to middle-of-the-road European leagues and the ability of a foreign coach to quickly integrate a team.

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The Legend of Josef Martinez and what it takes to get to 27 (and more) goals by Sean Steffen

Josef Martinez is a man on fire, and, as of writing this, he currently sits on 28 goals in 2018, having just broken the all time scoring record of 27 first set by Roy Lassiter in MLS’ inaugural season and matched by Chris Wondolowski in 2012 and Bradley Wright Phillips in 2014.

But I want to take this opportunity to look at how goal scorers score goals, and compare Wondolowski, Bradley Wright-Phillips and Martinez (we don’t have data on Lassiter, sadly) on their march to 27. Yes, Martinez has broken the record, but this article is going to deal with his stats on the way to 27. For a more complete breakdown of his data and where he lands, I’m sure someone at ASA (let’s say, Harrison) will write you that article at the end of the year.

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Expected Narratives: The Loony All-StaHres Edition by Ian L.

They say time flies by when you’re arguing over video review, and would you look at that? We’ve crossed the halfway threshold in the 2018 edition of Major League Soccer. The first half of the season has been a lot of fun if you like to read and talk about Atlanta. Last year’s MLS Cup finalists are more or less dead in the water, two of the league’s best coaches just peaced out to Europe, and with the transfer window opening shortly we’re bound to see some table shuffling over the next few months. We’ve been gone on World Cup duty for the last couple of weeks, so there is a lot to talk about now that I’m back from break. We’re gonna hit a few narratives hard and fast so buckle in.

Narrative: The All Star game is stupid.
Narrative Accuracy: Yes.

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Setting the Table: Week 11 by Eric Walcott

Welcome to Setting the Table, where each week we take some time to focus on the best chance creators in MLS from the last weekend. If you want to see the best chances that were wasted check out Lowered Expectations. Here we focus on chances that ended with the ball in the back of the net.

#5 Bradley Wright-Phillips to Daniel Royer, NYRB, 5th minute, 0.387 xG
Passes in sequence: 1

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San Jose Earthquakes 2018 Season Preview by Kevin Minkus

San Jose made big strides in 2017 to go from the second worst team in the West to a playoff team. After adding more talent, and some youth, they’ll hope to build on that for 2018.

2017 Recap

The 2017 San Jose Earthquakes ended the season with a -21 goal differential, the worst ever of any team to make the playoffs. But, they did make the playoffs, as the 6th seed in the West. And, after missing out every year since their Supporters’ Shield winning 2012, that was rightfully cause for celebration among Quakes fans, despite bowing out to the Whitecaps 5-0 in the knockout round.

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San Jose Earthquakes 2017 Season Preview by Kevin Minkus

2016 was another forgettable year among many (since 2012) for Quakes fans. The team finished with just 38 points, eight points out of the playoff race. That finish was good for 9th in the West, and 17th in the overall league table. The team actually got off to a decent start, with four wins in their first eight, but they couldn't keep that momentum going. From May 22nd to August 5th, the team won just one game, and then only two more through the rest of the year.

The team’s defense kept them in most games - they had the fifth best xGA in the league and the fifth best shots against. San Jose’s real problem was chance creation. They averaged just 12 shots per game, third worst in the league, and only 8.8 key passes per game - second worst in the league. Many of those chances came from balls lumped into the box from out wide - they averaged 21 crosses per game, second most in the league.

More Goonie talk below the jump.

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Tactics, Talent, and Success: Diversity in Scoring and Chance Creation by Benjamin Bellman

I’ve been wondering for some time about soccer teams’ reliance on star power and top statistical producers. Is it really a good strategy? Are teams with one main goal scorer or playmaker easier to “figure out”? When the game is on the line, is a singular threat easier to neutralize than a team with a plethora of attacking options? And would this kind of reliance actually hamper a team’s success across a season?

My skepticism must seem foolish to European executives, given the huge fees Gonzalo Higuain and Paul Pogba went for this summer. But the conventional wisdom is different in the American sports landscape. In our most popular sports, one person simply can’t do it all. Here, Defense Wins Championships. The San Antonio Spurs, the best NBA team of the past two decades, emphasize team play over everything. Peyton Manning was completely underwhelming in both of his Super Bowl wins, needing his incredible teams to carry him to glory. One star pitcher or one star hitter is simply not capable of winning a World Series on their own. The anecdotal evidence even appears in MLS. Chris Wondolowski’s 27 goals in 2012 didn’t get the Earthquakes past the first round of MLS playoffs; neutralize MVP Sebastian Giovinco, and 2015’s Toronto FC didn’t have much else to offer.

More after the jump.

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2016 ASA PREVIEW: SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES by Sean Steffen

With a cross to through ball ratio of 17-1 in a league where few teams break 5-1, San Jose in 2015 continued their storied tradition of raising their middle finger to modern soccer and losing on their own boring and regressive terms. Tackle, tackle, cross, cross, etc. The reason for this style runs to the core of San Jose's identity as a blue collar club that doesn't seem to put value on creativity or play making. One the most fan maligned players on that club, for instance, is Matias Perez Garcia. Boo! Hiss! Look how terrible this dude is after the jump.

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Season Preview: San Jose Earthquakes by Drew Olsen

Soccer in San Jose has a unique history, going back to the Clash earning MLS’s first ever victory in 1996. The franchise changed its name to the Earthquakes in 1999, and a few years later it started winning MLS Cups thanks to a Landon Donovan-sized gift from Bayer Leverkusen. A young Donovan helped to lead San Jose to MLS Cup wins in 2001 and 2003. But after the 2005 season, the ownership group grew tired of failing to embezzle funds from Silicon Valley’s tax payers and moved head coach Dominic Kinnear and the rest of the team to Houston. The Earthquakes were not reborn until the 2008 season, and since then they have been mired in a streak of mostly 6th and 7th-place finishes, with an out-of-the-blue, historic 2012 season sprinkled in.1

2013 Starting XI

SJ11

Transactions

Player Added Position From   Player Lost Position To
Jean-Baptiste Pierazzi M Out of nowhere Ramiro Corrales M Retired
Atiba Harris F Trade from Colorado Nana Attakora D Option declined
Billy Schuler F Weighted lottery Dan Gargan D Option declined
Tommy Thompson M Homegrown Marcus Tracy F Option declined
Shaun Francis D Re-Entry Stage 2 Evan Newton GK Option declined
Brandon Barklage D Re-Entry Stage 2 Peter McGlynn D Option declined
Bryan Meredith GK Free Cesar Diaz Pizarro F Option declined
J.J. Koval M SuperDraft Mehdi Ballouchy M Out of contract
Justin Morrow D Traded to Toronto FC
Rafael Baca M Transferred to Cruz Azul
Jaime Alas M Loan expired
Marvin Chávez M Traded to Colorado
Steven Beitashour D Traded to Vancouver

Roster churn: San Jose returns 68.8% of its minutes played from 2013, 14th in MLS and 6th in the Western Conference.

2014 Preview

SanJoseINFOComing off a 72-goal, 66-point performance in 2012’s regular season, many thought San Jose would likely find the playoffs again, and even be in the running for an MLS Cup Trophy. But 2013 saw the Earthquakes miss out on the playoffs completely, abruptly ending their hot run during the second half of the season. Striker Chris Wondolowski’s past two seasons mirrored those of the team, eclipsing the league in 2012 with 27 goals, and then failing to reach half that tally in 2013. Our upgraded shot locations data suggest that Wondo scored just 88.5 percent of the goals that a league-average player would be expected San Jose's 2014 Rosterto score based on his shot opportunities. Will 2014 see the return of Wondolowski and San Jose to one of the top seeds in the West, or will it prove to be the franchise that has placed 6th or 7th in five of the past six seasons?

San Jose was a perplexing club from a statistical standpoint last season. Our expected goal differential statistics (xGD) really liked the fact that the Earthquakes earned 4.8 shots per game from zone 2---the dangerous area around the penalty spot---which was good for second best in the entire league. San Jose finished with the league’s third-best xGD at +6.8. Those metrics seem to suggest that the second half of last season, when San Jose earned 33 points over 17 games, was more representative of their true ability. Indeed, it's worth noting that San Jose has been one of the best teams in the league for three-quarters of the past two seasons.

Before we get moving too quickly, though, we have some new data to bring the Goonies partway back to earth. This year’s version of shot locations data will break shots down by how they were taken, specifically headed versus kicked. With almost all the data in, now, it turns out that San Jose took nearly 23 percent of all its shots as headers---second only to Seattle---but headers are finished at about half the rate of kicked shots. The upgraded xGD 2.0 pegged the Earthquakes at an xGD of about +2.0 in 2013, which placed them fifth in the West. Fitting, as our readers picked San Jose to finish 5th in this coming season.

Of course, statistics from last year have a hard time determining the effect of losing players like Steve Beitashour and Marvin Chávez (the team’s assist leader in 2012). The major scoring pieces are still there in Wondolowski, Alan Gordon, and Steven Lenhart, but it’s harder to peg down the importance and replaceability of those midfielders and defenders.

If San Jose can continue to generate dangerous opportunities, as they have in each of the past two seasons, then look for the Earthquakes to regain a playoff spot in 2014.

Crowd Sourcing Results

5th place in the Western Conference; 138 voters (31.4%) felt that San Jose will be either a 4th or 5th seed in the playoffs in 2014, but 228 voters (56.4%) projected them to miss the playoffs completely.