Wednesday’s soccer news starts with the compacted schedule already catching up with Major League Soccer. After drawing 0-0 at Austin on Saturday, San Jose continued on a road swing to Orlando last night that turned into a 5-0 loss. As much as that scoreline flatters the home team, it also speaks to the travel demands and potential fatigue on teams even after most of them had a two-week international break. At least that’s the version that flatters the Earthquakes.
In a game marred by weather delays, Nani converted a penalty in the 7th minute to open the scoring with Benji Michel adding a goal in the 16th. Daryl Dike made it 3-0 in the 31st, scoring again in the 49th. Michel finished off the Orlando goals in the 90th minute. City outshot San Jose 17 to 12, putting eight of those on goal to one for the Earthquakes.
“We lost by five goals, and it could have been more,” San Jose coach Matias Almeyda said. “We were very bad on the pitch. We did not apply the pressure we needed to. We did not use spaces we thought about using. The goals came from our mistakes. We need to sit down and have another talk, reflect and try not make the same mistakes but we have this before. We need to give the players confidence and try to move forward. I’m aware of what took place, but this wasn’t the result we had planned. We didn’t come to play man-to-man; we didn’t need high pressure. We needed to make the difference with the ball, passing it to a teammate, not giving it away. Any scheme can fall through if you turn the ball over in dangerous zones.”
San Jose midfielder Shea Salinas spoke about the travel demands, saying “Yeah, the conditions are a factor; to travel, the game on Saturday night. That was a really quick turnaround. But we could make excuses all day after every game. It’s not going to help you. We have a big game Saturday, so there’s no point dwelling on what conditions could have been better. We’re looking at going forward Saturday and coming out with more energy, more control of the game, and shutting down their attack and scoring more goals than them.”
That Saturday game is at home to the LA Galaxy, meaning a trip across the country while trying to shake off a lopsided loss in strange circumstances. It’s a lot to ask from any team, but MLS has to get the games in while trying not to play through the heart of international windows. There are enough players involved in the summer international tournaments that without breaks the league wouldn’t look like itself. That would favor teams with players not on international duty, but only in the short term.
How teams navigate the schedule, especially during the summer months, should tell the story of the regular season. Doing enough now not to dig a hole means less pressure when the schedule returns to normal. It’s worth the reminder that San Jose isn’t propping up the bottom of the Western Conference. They’re an 8th-place team going into Thursday’s fuller schedule of games with 10 points from 10 games. Meanwhile, Orlando City beat Toronto as the away team at their own stadium on Saturday before picking up three more points at home on Wednesday. Their road trip is all the way to Miami on Friday with a home date against the Red Bulls on July 3.
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