SAN JOSE, Calif. – The turnaround is underway. After a challenging start under a new coach that echoed much of last season’s results, the Earthquakes have found their stride. The club is above the red line in seventh place in the Western Conference. They’re unbeaten in four consecutive matches and have won three straight at home. They have the longest unbeaten streak in the west, and they’re tied for second longest in the league. Earthquakes midfielder Jackson Yueill said, “The start of the season we had was a little rough. I think we were getting used to the system.”

The Earthquakes have certainly gotten used to the system. There’s a different energy during warm-ups, a swagger and confidence, all evidence of buy-in to Head Coach Matias Almeyda’s strategic plan. The team has developed a potent front that has outscored opponents 8-1 and tallied 11 goals since losing to LAFC. In stark contrast to that late March shutout in which LAFC put up 5 goals at Avaya Stadium, a suddenly stingy Earthquakes back line has not allowed a goal in two consecutive matches and is thus central to San Jose earning consecutive shutouts for the first time in two years.

The Earthquakes’ Saturday night performance versus FC Cincinnati was a clear demonstration of the grit and determination the club now possesses. The 1-0 FT shutout victory hardly tells the story. During the match, the team drew four yellow cards, two of which went against midfielder Cristian Espinoza and resulted in a red card ejection in only the 51st minute. The Earthquakes played the rest of the match with only 10 men. While defender Nick Lima scored the only goal early, in the 22nd minute, the team never stopped fighting and produced 11 shots on goal. Almeyda said it best, “The players are understanding how to identify with San Jose as a club. They are leaving their soul in every play.”

Not to be forgotten is the Earthquakes performance in goal. Keeper Daniel Vega has been outstanding. His league-leading 39 saves have led to three shutouts, and his performance on Saturday did not disappoint. His acrobatic save late in the match denied FC Cincinnati midfielder, and former Earthquakes midfielder, Fatai Alashe from equalizing. That was clutch. Vega is an essential part of the team’s turnaround.

While the Earthquakes fan favorite and presumptive future hall of fame member Chris Wondolowski entered the match late and didn’t score a goal, he did set the stage for yet another remarkable achievement. His next appearance will be his 300th appearance with the team, something only four other men have ever accomplished in MLS. One match away from 300, one goal away from tying the MLS record, watching Wondo make history is both surreal and fantastic.

Unbeaten in five of their last six matches, the Earthquakes face the New England Revolution on Saturday, May 11 at Gillette Stadium. The match will be broadcast live on NBC Sports California, KNBR 1050 and 1370 KZSF. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Pacific time. The team returns to Avaya Stadium to play the Chicago Fire on Saturday, May 18, with kickoff currently scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Pacific time. Fans interested in tickets can find them through the Earthquakes website.

Ahsan Awan has been covering pro and college sports for over a decade, and has been covering professional soccer, including Major League Soccer, since 2014. He can be found on Twitter as @quackarazzi, and on Instagram as @quackarazzi. All images taken by Ahsan Awan and ©2019 American Presswire (Twitter: @ampresswire).