The San Jose Earthquakes host Western Conference rivals Sporting Kansas City on Saturday, April 20 (6:45 p.m.) at Avaya Stadium, presented by the City of San Jose Environmental Services Department. The match will be broadcast live on NBC Sports California, KNBR 1050 and 1370 KZSF.
Head coach Matias Almeyda discusses the team’s most recent match in Houston, the upcoming match against Sporting Kansas City, and the development of young midfielder Jackson Yueill.
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES HEAD COACH MATIAS ALMEYDA
On the rain delay in Houston:
“The match in general was good aside from the result. We suffered in the first eight to 10 minutes. We were lucky not to concede, but the match was all square. We were even a little better for a moment. We did good in closing out the first half. Both teams had the chance to convert, but then there was a delay at halftime that went for 45 minutes to an hour. It gets complicated because the players aren’t warm. I had to give another talk to get the players back in the game, really for the both of us, but they have lived through that so it’s not an excuse, but it was something new for us. Afterwards, two of our mistakes which could have been avoided allowed the opponent to score. We got back in the match after tying it. It was an even match, we repeated good things but also repeated bad things.”
On takeaways from the match against Houston:
“I think we need to keep improving defensively, on how we want to mark, and how we should mark. We need to be more concentrated, especially when the opponent has strong characteristics and when the information was already given to mark a certain way. We need to be dependable. We can’t be focused for 45 minutes and forget about our plan. There is a process set in place and change is coming. I liked the team’s reaction to conceding the first goal, that could have tied the match. Ball possession was ours. We were similar in shots on target. Ideally, we would like to play the same way in the match we won, where we played well for 60 or 65 minutes, and the idea is that we stay on that path. We have three difficult matches coming up. Our next match, the way I see it, is against one of the top-two teams in the league, which is Kansas. They are managed well and have quality players in their roster. I had the chance to see Peter [Vermes] in training when I was at River Plate. I went to Orlando and saw many teams and how they trained, and one them was Peter’s and he really is a great coach.”
On the difference between Sporting KC in MLS and CONCACAF Champions League:
“I watched both matches. Kansas played well in their matchup against Monterrey, only Monterrey have players that are unforgiving. [Rogelio] Funes Mori made a mistake on a chance but scored the second and the third. Kansas had many possibilities in that matchup as well. The first time when they played at home, they played a team that opened up their game and their counter-attacks were easier with the quality of players they had. Aside from the goals, Kansas played very well. They pressured, they took risks, they played from the outsides, they played quickly. We know that Monterrey are strong side in Mexican soccer.”
On Jackson Yueill’s performance thus far:
“He is a young player that must keep developing. He understands what we’re looking for and he must keep improving. For me, he is set to play. He has a great shot from long distance. He is a player that can play a ball from 40 to 50 meters with precision. His short and long play is good. Our system requires that type of sacrifice to run and fight to recover the ball when we are not in possession. If you watched the game, there was a moment in one of [Houston’s] goals in which he should have committed a foul to break up the counter attack, and these can all be lessons for the future. He brings quality to our offense, he connects well with Magnus [Eriksson] and Danny [Hoesen], and can play long balls to our wingers. We need to take advantage of him. I need him to be more involved and have better possessions on the pitch.”
On key factors for Saturday’s match against Sporting Kansas City:
“We know we need to play to our strengths. The players are convinced they can play a great match against a strong opponent. They need to enjoy playing this match, and they need to believe they can go up against the best and the worst. The numbers say we are one the weaker sides, so we fight to be the best we can, and we are working towards the change. They are a team you can’t sleep on, a team that is enjoyable to watch. Everyone is mobile, and there is great individual technique throughout their team. They all work together, and they are team that is managed very well.”