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How bad did it get for the Earthquakes? Real bad

SAN JOSE — The Earthquakes made a strong case Saturday night for the title of Major League Soccer’s most aggravating team.
Some might be less kind and describe them as the league’s worst team.
The promise of a new era of younger and better fell as flat as a tortilla in an embarrassing 3-1 home defeat to lowly D.C. United at Avaya Stadium.
“It’s absolutely a disaster,” rookie coach Mikael Stahre said. “My bad.”
Actually, it took more than 10 fingers to place the blame for a performance that left an announced crowd of 17,644 tortured fans showering the team with boos. Had there actually been 17,000-plus fans in attendance those jeers would have reverberated throughout Avaya.
It’s clear San Jose (2-6-3, nine points) got the message. This won’t do as the Quakes wasted all the goodwill from a successful two-game trip only to return home to signal they probably won’t be competing for a playoff spot come summer.
San Jose stumbled to 1-3-1 at Avaya as United — who entered the game with the league’s worst record — ended a 10-game road winless streak.
All it took was 22 minutes of recreation-league errors by the home team. If not for Danny Hoesen’s sixth goal of the season in the 43rd minute it would have been nothing less than abject failure.
Captain Chris Wondolowski was speechless while starting his third consecutive game on the bench. After all, it’s not like he’s allowed to boo teammates.
“Tough to watch, tough to see,” Wondolowski said later before apologizing to fans.
Stahre wasted no time in reverting to a more traditional look, sending the league’s No. 2 all-time leading scorer into the game to start the second half and utilizing a four-man backline.
Valeri Qazaishvili (11) tries to move upfield Saturday night against D.C. United’s defense in a 3-1 home defeat for the Earthquakes. (ISI Photos) 
But not even the club’s most storied player could salvage this mess. The second half devolved into a clownish performance by both sides. United (2-5-2) flubbed two easy threats that should have ended any question of a San Jose comeback that never materialized.
Stahre started Chris Wehen, the 2017 USL rookie of the year from Reno, for the first time this season. That left third-year midfielder Anibal Godoy as the most senior member of the starting XI.
“Obviously, I pushed the wrong buttons,” Stahre said.
After defeating Minnesota and trying Vancouver on the road in the past week, the Earthquakes expected to take advantage of one of the league’s worst defenses. United, playing its third of eight consecutive road games, had allowed three goals in its two previous contests.
The roles reversed in the first 45 minutes.
Two miserable mistakes led to five minutes of disaster for San Jose, which fell behind 2-0 by the 20th minute.
United started the onslaught when Zoltan Stieber slipped behind the defense off an uncontested long serve from Luciano Acosta. Defender Florian Jungwirth responded a moment too late to disrupt Stieber’s shot past goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell.
The most maddening moment came five minutes later when Valeri Qazaishvili sent a lazy pass toward Jackson Yueill in San Jose’s third of the field. Acosta was the culprit again, slipping in front of Yueill. The United midfielder fed teammate Darren Mattocks, who easily got his fourth goal of the season.
Jungwirth gathered teammates near the Quakes’ circle imploring them to do better.
They did worse.   
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United scored three goals for the first time this season with Yamil Asad’s shot in the 37th minute. Boos rained down after the goal that came on Yueill’s clumsy giveaway near the penalty area.
The Quakes return to the road Friday against their biggest rivals, the Los Angeles Galaxy.

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