Almeyda kicks of Quakes tenure vs. Impact

ByReuters ESPN logo
Saturday, March 2, 2019

Matias Almeyda begins his first MLS season coaching the San Jose Earthquakes Saturday night by facing the visiting Montreal Impact and their own imported coach charged with leading a club turnaround.

Almeyda begins his tenure at San Jose with two of the biggest clubs in the Western Hemisphere on his coaching resume, River Plate of Argentina and Chivas of Mexico. Although the scrutiny won't be as heavy, the task may be more difficult with San Jose, which finished with an MLS-worst 21 points in 2018.

Without a major personnel influx, the first step toward change is in mentality, Almeyda says. And he believes he saw signs of a shift in the team's final preseason match last Saturday, a 2-2 draw against the Seattle Sounders in which San Jose overcame a 2-0 deficit.

"We are looking for a style," Almeyda said. "We're looking to be aggressive, be on the offensive, take risks when we have the ball. Despite being down by two goals, I valued the attitude in the players -- it was a big change."

In Montreal, the Earthquakes face a side that just missed out on the playoffs in 2018 under Remi Garde, who arrived with a coaching resume that included England's Aston Villa and France's Olympique Lyonnais. Garde is back for a second year.

The Impact lost 10 of their first 13 matches under Garde, conceding 29 goals in the process. That defensive sloppiness ultimately proved too much to overcome, as Montreal finished one spot and four points out of an Eastern Conference playoff place.

The Impact have had a laser focus on the defensive side of the game in this season's training camp, having allowed only one goal in five preseason matches. They closed camp with a 3-0 victory over D.C. United.

"Our defensive shape, our rigor and discipline were very high," Garde said. "It makes me very happy to see my players enjoy not conceding a goal. Overall, it's a good result, and the content was very satisfying to me."

--Field Level Media