Know Your Enemy: San Jose Earthquakes

San Jose led by strong defense, but with only one win in 2014

San Jose Quakes

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The busy month of May rolls on for FC Dallas as they play their third game in seven days. On Saturday, the club remains on the road for another Western Conference battle against the San Jose Earthquakes.

San Jose is currently 1-3-4 on the season with their lone win coming two weeks ago against Chivas USA.

Just like FC Dallas, the Quakes were in action on Wednesday night as they hosted the Colorado Rapids at Buck Shaw Stadium. Both teams struggled to generate any offense as the game ended 0-0.

San Jose and Dallas met three times last season with the two teams splitting the season series. FCD won the first match 1-0 in Frisco last May. The two sides would meet again in Frisco in August, in a match that ended in a 2-2 draw. San Jose would finish out the season series with a win in their own building on the final day of the regular season, a 2-1 victory.

Injury Watch

San Jose has a growing number of players out at the moment. They’ve been without defenders Tommy Muller (lower back spasms), Jason Hernandez (quad strain), Homegrown midfielder Tommy Thompson (knee) and forward Stephen Lenhart (MCL strain).

As of Wednesday, they are also going to be missing right back Andres Gorlitz. The former Bayern Munich defender suffered a right knee injury midway through the game against Colorado. He is likely done for the rest of this season.

Midfielder Yannick Djalo is a question mark for Saturday’s game, as he has been dealing with groin tightness since last weekend.

Key Matchups

J.J. Koval vs Hendry Thomas - The San Jose rookie has had a bumpy start to his MLS career. At times he has proven that he can facilitate the Earthquakes attack and in other games he has been hidden from play. Thomas is a physical player that should contain what Koval likes to do on the ball and force him into turnovers. 

Fabian Castillo vs Brandon Barklage - Speed is a tough thing to defend. Barklage has struggled this season against speedy wingers, including last week’s loss at Vancouver when he was going up against players like Darren Mattocks and Kekuta Manneh.

Key Player for San Jose

Chris Wondolowski - The United States national team striker has done well so far this season, leading the Quakes with five goals. Wondolowski is always a player that finds himself in the right spots in the penalty box with most of his goals coming off rebounds.

Projected Lineup

San Jose coach Mark Watson uses a 4-4-2 formation that has lately seen Wondolowski sit a little higher than his strike partner.

Goalkeeper: Jon Busch; RB: Brandon Barklage; CB: Clarence Goodson, Victor Bernardez; LB: Jordan Stewart; RM: Cordell Cato; CM: JJ Koval, Sam Cronin; LM: Shea Salines; FW: Alan Gordon, Chris Wondolowski

Keys to three points

The Earthquakes bring a physical style of play to the game. But this is a team that has struggled on and off already this season in both their attack and in defense. They’ve been shutout three times this season and injuries are piling up for Watson.

Beating San Jose is never easy to do in their own building. Buck Shaw Stadium is a compact field that limits what teams can do on the wings. Thankfully the speed on the outside for Oscar Pareja should still be effective in this one. The Quakes have shown this season to struggle against teams with speed on the outside.

San Jose is a more disciplined team however, despite their physical tone. FC Dallas will have to make the most of the limited number of set piece chances that they’ll get in this one.

Defensively, Dallas will need to make sure Wondolowski isn’t allowed extra space in and around the penalty box. Right now his only real service is coming from Shea Salinas. As long as those passing lanes are cut down, FCD should have a good chance at leaving Silicon Valley with points.