Quakes Sputter Against HoustonBy: Chris | March 18th, 2012
Sorry I haven’t been posting recently. Work and school have my schedule full. The Quakes won their first opening game since 2002 last week when they took down New England thanks to a Chris Wondolowski goal in the 15th minute. The team had several chances to extend their lead but ultimately pulled out the 1-0 victory. Yesterday the Quakes took on Houston in a special double header at AT&T Park in San Francisco. The Quakes went down 1-0 in the same minute they went up against New England last week, minute 15, thanks to a Brad Davis penalty conversion.
Head coach Frank Yallop made some changes to his winning lineup from last weekend. Yallop switched Marvin Chavez for Khari Stephenson in an effort to provide more of an aerial challenge against a tall Houston back line. Unfortunately Houston were without their primary left back, instead utilizing Jermaine Taylor, a centerback, as a makeshift left back. The Quakes should have focused their attacks on the wings, especially the right side, to take advantage of their speedy wingers. Instead the Quakes tried to play through the middle where Houston have their largest and strongest players.
In the 14th minute Brian Ching collided with Jon Busch and Victor Bernarndez at the top of the 6 yard box. The referee claimed that Busch fouled Ching and awarded Houston the penalty that won them the game. It looked like a silly challenge from the stands, and watching replays of the incident only prove that Busch did not need to come off his line and his attempt to knock the ball away was clumsy and he did in fact penalize Ching. Maybe the ball held up in the wind and that’s why Busch’s attempt at defense failed, but it was a poor challenge in all. Davis coolly slotted the ball past a diving Busch for the game’s only goal.
After the break Chavez came on for Rafael Baca in an effort to provide more speed to attack Houston. Tressor Moreno came on in the 63rd minute and provided more support for the attack. The Quakes were the better team overall, but definitely in the second half. There was lost of movement and passing, but that final piercing ball still eludes the team. There were several opportunities for the Quakes in the second half but they were either saved or not capitalized on.
I still feel the team is missing that last lethal piece in the midfield. Moreno still needs more time to gel with rest of the players and get up to match fitness. He can hold the ball well and make pinpoint passes, he just needs to work on passing while moving. There were several instances last night where he tried to pass while running onto the ball and basically gave the ball to Houston. Bernardez has been a beast at center back, calm, cool, collected; he has an excellent ability to keep possession when needed and excellent defensive abilities. Hopefully Jason Hernandez can come back soon and really cement a partnership with him in the back. I like Justin Morrow as a left back instead of a center back, but he’s been doing fine there right now as well. Finally Steven Lenhart has been doing his thing and getting the attention it deserves from the defense. I feel like his two yellow cards were incorrectly assigned to him but as long as he can keep holding up play to get his teammates in on action, he’s going to get his due soon.
Next week the Quakes travel to Toronto, where they will face their old teammate Ryan Johnson, who has been on a tear for his team in CONCACAF Champions League recently. Wondo scored a hat trick in Toronto 2 years ago and will be looking for some more Canadian good luck on Saturday.