A return to a more normal MLS schedule means that the Columbus Crew faces eight Western Conference teams in the 2022 regular season. The Crew already played one, a dominant 4-0 victory against the Vancouver Whitecaps at Lower.com Field last weekend, and that continues in Week 2.
The Black & Gold head west this week to face the San Jose Earthquakes. These two teams haven’t played one another since Aug. 3, 2019. In that 1-1 draw, the Earthquakes went up 1-0 on a penalty kick before forward Gyasi Zardes tied the match in the 65th minute.
Almost three years later, Zardes is still in black and gold but a lot has changed. To catch up with what’s going on out west, Massive Report spoke with Favian Renkel, who independently covers the Earthquakes.
Massive Report: When a lot of non-San Jose supporters think of the Earthquakes, they think of the now-retired Chris Wondolowski. What’s life like for the Quakes offense without the former American international forward?
Favian Renkel: Life without Wondo is bleak, but knowing that he’s in the assistant to the GM role, yes you heard right, makes everything alright.
This team needs a leader and making one appear out of nowhere is extremely difficult. Especially replacing the eternal captain of the San Jose Earthquakes. Wondolowski represented everything that is San Jose. The rugged, the overlooked, the second chancers and the not appreciated. Our best player is only on a six-month loan, his name is Chofis Lopez. You could say he’s like a Liga MX Wondo, for his own reasons. Chofis was the black sheep for Chivas, how Wondo was that for American soccer. He is most of our offense. If Cade Cowell and Jeremy Ebobisse can start making goals this offense has the potential to be a very effective one. With the new addition of someone you guys know Jamiro Monteiro, the have a good chance of scoring a lot this year.
MR: Because of their different conferences, the Quakes and Crew haven’t played since 2019. What’re some offseason moves by San Jose and players to watch on Saturday?
FR: The Quakes have a completely different roster since the last time they played. I want to say about 60% of the team is different. Bringing in guys like Monteiro and Jan Gregus is something that is very exciting for Quakes fans. This is the first time they have 3 DPs for Matias Almeyda. I like to call this derby the “Unrecognizable Cup” the two teams in MLS that are the most unrecognizable city to someone outside the U.S.
MR: The Earthquakes have been on the outside of the playoffs for a few years, what do you see from this team in 2022?
FR: This team has a good chance of reaching that last playoff spot in the West, with Nashville now in the West it just makes our chances that much slimmer. It’s do or die for Matias Almeyda in MLS, lets just hope its do.
The Black & Gold and the Quakes kickoff at PayPal Park at 5:30 p.m. ET on Saturday.