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Know Your Enemy: San Jose Earthquakes

The 11-game winless run is over for FC Dallas after their exciting 3-1 victory on Wednesday at Chivas USA. The club can now use that newly found momentum and confidence this weekend as they host the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday evening. 

A lot has changed since Dallas’ last meeting with San Jose back in May. For starters, the Quakes have a new boss roaming the sidelines as Mark Watson took over earlier this summer for longtime head coach Frank Yallop. San Jose and Yallop parted ways on June 7th.  

Since taking over, Watson has posted a 6-4-0 record.

READ: Schellas Hyndman praised his team's determination after Wednesday's win over Chivas USA

Dallas got the better of San Jose back in their only meeting this season, winning that May 25th match 1-0. Fabian Castillo scored the game’s only goal in the 33rd minute.

San Jose is coming into this match fresh off a 1-0 win over Sporting Kansas City last weekend. The Quakes are 4-1-0 in their last five MLS games.

WATCH: Ferreira puts FCD in front vs Chivas USA

Injury Watch

San Jose has had plenty of injuries to deal with this season. Currently they have four players out including defenders Ty Harden, Tommy Muller and Nana Attakora. Forward Mike Fucito will also be out of this game with an ankle injury.

The question marks going into Saturday’s for the Quakes surround Walter Martinez (hamstring strain) and Dan Gargan (adductor strain).

Key Matchup

Clarence Goodson vs Blas Perez – The former FC Dallas defender returns to Frisco for the first time since leaving the club after the 2007 season. On Saturday he’ll get the task of dealing with a physical forward in Perez.

READ: Catching up with the FCD Academy players who recently participated in a US Soccer Under-18 combine

Jaime Alas vs Kellyn Acosta – The youthful Acosta gets possibly his first big test as a starter this weekend as he goes up against the Salvadoran midfielder that recently came to San Jose on loan earlier this summer. Alas does a good job of getting the ball in space and taking defenders on.

Key Player for San Jose

Chris Wondolowski – The 2012 MLS MVP has finally woken up here this season thanks to a big summer with the US national team. He scored in the Quakes win over Sporting KC last weekend and has typically done well against FC Dallas in the past. Wondolowski has eight goals on the season, a far cry from his 27 goals in 2012.

Projected Lineup

Watson uses a very simple and traditional 4-4-2 formation. 

Goalkeeper: Joe Busch; RB: Steven Beitashour; CB: Victor Bernardez, Clarence Goodson; LB: Justin Marrow; RM: Marvin Chavez; CM: Sam Cronin, Rafael Baca; LM: Jaime Atlas; FW: Chris Wondolowski, Alan Gordon

Keys to three points

The recent push by San Jose has been impressive to watch. Newcomers like Goodson and Alas have been a part of their turn around. So has the goal scoring from Wondolowski and company (Wondolowski has three goals in his last three games).

VIDEO: Tex Hooper has a special message for you ahead of Saturday's game vs San Jose

What makes San Jose interesting is how well they play against top-level clubs in MLS. They have wins over Kansas City, Seattle, Portland but have losses to bottom-level teams like D.C. United and Chicago. They are a very Jekyll and Hyde type of team.

Dallas will need to use the momentum that they created on Wednesday in Los Angeles. The times that Dallas has been successful lately have been when they play the ball wide and work it into the penalty box to create goal-scoring chances. It worked well on Wednesday against Chvias, and against a team like San Jose it will work again on Saturday.

Defensively, Dallas will need to play smart against Wondolowski and Gordon. Both players do well at frustrating opposing defenses with their ability to create chances out of thin air.

San Jose is also a team that closes games very well with 10 of their 26 goals scored this season coming after the 76th minute. On the flipside, the Quakes also tend to give up plenty of early goals, as teams have scored 16 goals against them in the first half.

Dallas has a chance to inch closer to the top of the Western Conference with another win on Saturday. This is the perfect time of the year to get everything in line for a playoff run. A win against San Jose would certainly do that for Dallas.