With the fanfare of the California Clasico now over, the San Jose Earthquakes are looking to run their unbeaten streak to four games when they travel to Portland on Saturday to take on the Timbers.
While avoiding a loss for almost a month is welcome news to Quakes fans, all three games were draws, thereby leaving San Jose some more work to claw back into the Western Conference playoff picture.
Regardless, there were definitely bright spots to choose from in last week’s dramatic 3-3 draw with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the LA Galaxy, namely Chris Wondolowski’s continued production up front. After scoring a brace, the seemingly ageless Wondo stands just six goals away from Landon Donovan’s MLS all-time scoring record.
Vako Qazaishvili also showed how dangerous he could be offensively with his fourth goal of the season as the team battled back from a 3-1 second-half deficit to secure the point.
Now the men in Black and Blue head to the Pacific Northwest to meet their old NASL rivals, but with some good news. Defender Nick Lima is scheduled to be healthy enough to return to the lineup after leaving the Clasico early, according to Quakes Epicenter’s Joel Soria.
The Timbers are on a 10-match unbeaten run of their own, with Diego Valeri reeling off a trio of assists and Larrys Mabiala coming off the back line to score a pair of goals in Portland’s latest win over Seattle Sounders FC last Saturday.
Valeri also notched the only goal the last time the two sides met in May, a 1-0 Portland victory at Avaya Stadium. A road win here could really serve as a catalyst for head coach Mikael Stahre and the Quakes’ fortunes the second half of the season.
RENO CLOBBERS MONARCHS, EXTEND UNBEATEN RUN TO 14
On the other hand, the Quakes’ USL affiliate, Reno 1868 FC, has enjoyed a campaign to remember so far.
The club’s latest conquest on Tuesday, a dominant 3-0 win over Real Monarchs SLC, was arguably its best performance yet. The victory elevated the team to third in the Western Conference standings and stretched their unbeaten run to 14 games (eight wins, six draws).
Forward Brian Brown was a force with two goals, and midfielders Tommy Thompson and Chris Wehan made their case for another call-up to San Jose by creating scoring chance after scoring chance.
Head coach Ian Russell lamented after the game that they could have tallied more goals, and with the team’s chemistry at an all-time high, it would be hard to argue against him. Make no mistake; the Battle Born Brigade has a legitimate USL title contender on their hands now.
Reno will face Seattle Sounders 2 on Sunday before traveling to LA Galaxy II next Wednesday. Regarding the latter matchup, it will be hard for either side to forget the 9-0 annihilation the Quakes’ feeder team inflicted on Los Dos last season.
Wehan was a central figure in the rout, and if he can keep his current form, could once again be the driving force in another triumph over their bitter SoCal rivals.
EX-QUAKES ACADEMY STARS FLOOD SF GLENS’ PDL ROSTER
The USL’s developmental league, the PDL, was once home to Burlingame Dragons FC, the Quakes’ next affiliate on the ladder that had a staggering 14 players either signed to MLS Homegrown Contracts (e.g., Nick Lima, JT Marcinkowski) or selected in the MLS SuperDraft (Kevin Partida, Danny Musovski most recently).
However, with the team folding last season, no less than 11 former Dragons have signed with the expansion San Francisco Glens, Burlingame’s de facto replacement in the league. Glens team president/GM J. Ramon Estevez is himself a former Quakes director of game operations.
Among the Quakes Academy stars now suiting up for the Glens include a trio of U.S. Under-18 National Team players—forward Arda Bulut (pictured above right), midfielder Andrew Paoli, and defender C.J. Grey—who also currently feature collegiately for Stanford, UCLA, and Cal, respectively.
Ex-Quakes Academy captain Isaiah Dargan, midfielder Marcus Simmons and forward-turned-defender Rei Dorwart have also been regulars for head coach Javier Ayala-Hil this season, including a 3-0 win over LA Galaxy’s San Diego-based PDL team that gave the new City squad its first win in franchise history.
The new PDL franchise marks a potential path to the professional ranks for the Glens, who already boast a partnership with European giants Celtic FC. With 1,300 players in their existing SF Glens Evolution youth program, the Glens are the biggest top-to-bottom soccer club in San Francisco.
The Glens have two home games left at Boxer Stadium in Balboa Park, starting with a 5:30 p.m. Friday matchup against the SoCal Seahorses. They conclude their home schedule on Saturday the 14th at 3 p.m. against USL franchise Fresno FC’s Under-23 side.