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Earthquakes' Three Key Players Versus Sporting KC

The San Jose Earthquakes play Sporting Kansas City on Sunday, with only one point separating the two in the Western Conference Standings. The Earthquakes beat Sporting Kansas City twice last year, including a 5-0 stunner at Sporting Park. In order to get three in a row, the performances of three key players may be the key to three points at Avaya.

Earthquakes’ Three Key Players

Forward Quincy Amarikwa. Quite simply, it’s Quincy’s time to shine. Last week, the Portland Timbers played a simple defensive game plan: do not let Chris Wondolowski touch the ball! The Timbers swarmed the Quakes forward in the box and limited the MLS leading goal-scorer to one run-of-play shot for 90 minutes. Expect Sporing KC to do the same, which will be a perfect opportunity for forward Quincy Amarikwa to get his share of chances. In order for Quincy to be effective, he needs to recognize when he is in an offsides position  (he has been flagged nine times for offsides this year) and convert his shots to challenge SKC goalkeeper Tim Melia. Expect Quincy to score at least once on Sunday.

Center-back Andres Imperiale. The absence of center-back Clarence Goodson has created a vulnerable Quakes back-line on set pieces and corners. If Goodson is out again on Sunday–he is currently listed as “OUT” on the official MLS Injuries list as of April 21–it is up to Andres Imperiale to disrupt the set pieces and crosses that come into the box. Without Goodson, the Quakes are averaging 1.8 goals allowed per game. Look for Imperiale to stifle SKC set pieces.

Midfielder Simon Dawkins. The pressure is mounting for designated player Simon Dawkins to open up the center of the pitch for the Quakes attack, but this season, the Quakes have had to rely on Old Faithful: crosses from the flanks rather than through-balls into the box. Simon Dawkins has not brought the same control he had when he played for San Jose in 2011-12, often dribbling into trouble or executing poor passes in the attacking half. If Dawkins can get back to his old form, the Quakes may have found that missing piece to the playoff puzzle. But as it stands now, the Quakes are where they were last year: a middle-of-the-West team which may have a tough road to the playoffs, especially with the emergences of Real Salt Lake and the Colorado Rapids. Expect to see Dawkins challenge Benny Feilhaber and Roger Espinosa down the middle, either shooting from the top of the 18-yard-box, or getting through balls to Amarikwa or Wondolowski.

The San Jose Earthquakes play Sporting Kansas City on Sunday, April 24th at Avaya Stadium at 12:30 PDT. 

Main Photo: Thearon W. Henderson, Getty Images


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