After two disappointing draws in the last two weeks, the San Jose Earthquakes are looking to bounce back and grab all three points against the rapidly falling New York Red Bulls. Where will be the area of emphasis for San Jose against New York? On a short run up, it’s difficult to tell what lineup either team will put out, especially with a game on Sunday against Sporting KC. Here is your Earthquake’s Matchday 6 scouting report.
The Goalkeepers: Advantage Quakes
Luis Robles won Goalkeeper of the year in 2015, and rightly so. This season may be another story. Robles has an average 6.13 match rating according to whoscored.com. So far, Robles has allowed ten goals over the 450 minutes played so far. While his defense has left him out to dry a few times, he certainly hasn’t had the best of times in 2015.
David Bingham, on the other hand, has an average match rating of 6.88. He has allowed seven goals in the first five games, three of which came while down a man at Los Angeles Galaxy. Also, the Earthquakes have had two penalty kicks against them and have scored an own goal. Bingham, overall, has looked much more impressive than Robles to start the season, so I think based on current form, Bingham has the advantage.
The Backline: Advantage Quakes
The New York backline has been absolutely thrashed, only giving up less than two goals once in the first five matches. The absence of Matt Miazga is of major note with this defense, who are severely underperforming. Some if it has to do with a new backline leader, as well as just trying to get them all used to playing together. Add in a short week and a lack of quality depth on the backline, it could spell trouble for New York.
The biggest question of depth for the Earthquakes is in central defense. Clarence Goodson and Victor Bernardez are up there in age and injury issues tend to keep them off the field a couple times a season. The new additions to the ‘Quakes backline have slotted in incredibly well, and their provided depth will be a major boost. You can expect to see at least two of them in the starting lineup on Wednesday and, possibly, the San Jose debut of newly acquired Kofi Sarkodie. Because of San Jose’s current chemistry on the backline and their defensive record from last season, I give the advantage to San Jose.
The Midfield: Advantage New York
This area is easily New York’s greatest strength. Sacha Klejistan, Dax McCarty, Felipe, Lloyd Sam, and much more. They have plenty of great midfielders that would start on most teams. With the heavy depth they have, they can afford to sit people and not lose a whole lot of quality in the midfield.
On the other hand, the Earthquakes have depth issues here, due to injury. Anibal Godoy is out until at least Saturday, and Marc Pelosi still isn’t fully ready to get back on the field. That leaves only 3 central midfielders for Wednesday. With a big game in Portland looming on Saturday, you can expect either one or both of Tommy Thompson and Fatai Alashe to be rested. The other will likely start alongside Matheus Silva. Simon Dawkins is always an option to slide into the central midfield, but that has proven ineffective more often than not. If he does, it should be in a central attacking role, just underneath the striker. Because of the Quakes midfield depth getting stretched due to injuries, the advantage goes to New York.
The Forwards: Advantage San Jose
Bradley Wright-Phillips tied an MLS record for goals scored in a season in 2014 with 27 total. The only other forward they currently have on the roster is Mike Grella, who proved his worth the last season. So far this season both have been badly out of form. Wright-Phillips is getting a 6.34 average match rating and Mike Grella a 6.79. Their opponents have done well to take them out of the matches they’ve played, getting shutout 3/5 matches they’ve played. Will they be up to the task after a disappointing home loss on Saturday?
San Jose’s striker tandem, on the other hand, has been on fire to start the season. Chris Wondolowski has four goals in five games and Quincy Amarikwa has a goal and two assists to add. Add in Adam Jahn’s late goal against D.C. United, and the Earthquakes have six of their seven goals scored by their strikers. Quincy Amarikwa has been named Man of the Match according to whoscored.com twice this season, and Wondolowski has an average match rating of 7.33. The biggest question for them lies in who plays against New York. It is hard to see Wondo sitting out, but he is getting older. With the returned health of Chad Barrett and Innocent Emeghara it will be interesting to see how minutes are distributed on Wednesday and Saturday. Just because of their current form, I give the advantage to San Jose here.
I don’t see San Jose keeping players like Amarikwa and Wondolowski on the field for too long, especially with the game coming against Portland. You could expect to see Amarikwa for maybe 60 minutes, and Wondolowski for 55-60 minutes as well. The case for the diamond midfield just allows for rest for Tommy Thompson and Fatai Alashe. I think we could see them come on as subs, but Dom Kinnear would be wise to rest them for the upcoming match in Portland.
Double game weeks always seem difficult to predict just because of the lineup shuffling that takes place. You can expect New York to play their fast attacking, high press game as usual. If I’m San Jose, I try and catch them on the counter as well. That proved successful for teams like Toronto FC and Kansas City. Innocent, Shea Salinas, Amarikwa, and Matias Perez Garcia are great candidates to get in behind the New York defense with their speed. San Jose will look to build down the wings since it seems New York doesn’t play with true wingers much. I think San Jose will be able to catch New York on the break plenty enough to create quality chances. 2-0 San Jose.
Main Photo: Victor Decolongon, Getty Images