Know Your Enemy: San Jose Earthquakes

FC Dallas must pick themselves up and move on from Tuesday’s tough loss in the semifinal round of the 2014 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. This weekend they head west for a trip to Northern California, where they will meet the San Jose Earthquakes.

San Jose is currently sitting 12 points back of FC Dallas in the standings, but they are coming into this game unbeaten in their last four matches. Last weekend San Jose drew their big rivals the LA Galaxy, 2-2.

Mark Watson’s club has already gotten the best of FC Dallas this season, at both Buck Shaw Stadium and Toyota Stadium. Both meetings were back in May when FC Dallas was struggling through injuries and suspensions. Each match ended with the Quakes winning 2-1.

Injury Watch

While the Quakes have been doing well over the last month of the season, it has come at a price as several key players are out with injuries.

Defenders Tommy Muller (back spasms) and Andreas Gorlitz (torn ACL) have been out for several weeks now. Joining them on the injury report are Clarence Goodson (toe sprain), Steven Lenhart (knee arthroscopy) and Yannick Djalo (quad strain).

Key Matchups

Matias Perez Garcia vs Victor Ulloa - While Perez Garcia is technically a forward, he will sit just in front of the four-man midfield for the Quakes. Look for Ulloa to likely shadow him more in the game to try and limit his passing lanes forward to Chris Wondolowski.

Shaun Francis vs Fabian Castillo - The wings are still where FC Dallas can win this game and a lot of that has to do with Castillo and his speed. Francis has a little bit of speed to his game but if FC Dallas can focus on getting Castillo in space in one-on-one situations with Francis, the edge will certainly swing over to the visitors.

Key Player for San Jose

Chris Wondolowski - The World Cup veteran is still the main guy for San Jose. He either sets up the attack or finishes it. Last weekend against LA he had a goal and an assist. This season he leads the Quakes with eight goals while adding in three assists.

Projected Lineup

Watson uses a 4-4-2 formation with one striker sitting a little higher than the other.

Goalkeeper: Jon Busch; RB: Shaun Francis; CB: Victor Bernardez, Jason Hernandez; LB: Jordan Stewart; RM: Atiba Harris; CM: Jean-Baptiste Pierazzi, Sam Cronin; LM: Shea Salines; FW: Matias Perez Garcia, Chris Wondolowski

Keys to three points

The Quakes have certainly had FC Dallas’ number this season but both games came during the month of May when all was going wrong for Oscar Pareja’s club. Things in league play have been drastically different for FC Dallas since the last meeting as the team enters this game on an eight-match unbeaten run.

Fitness will be key though for FC Dallas in this match. Having the US Open Cup game go to penalties really exhausted the troops on Tuesday as they left it all on the field in the loss to Philadelphia. Pareja will have to get creative with his lineup for a third straight game, especially with the injuries to Moises Hernandez, Adam Moffat and Walker Zimmerman.

The key for Dallas is playing their game in this one. San Jose will likely take it to them on their home turf and this may be another game where possession won’t matter a whole lot for Pareja and FCD. If the counterattack is there with Castillo, Blas Perez, Tesho Akindele and Andres Escobar, then it plays right into the hand of what this team has been doing over the last few games.

Defensively, FCD will need to find ways to shut down Wondolowski and newcomer Perez Garcia. Both do well at putting themselves into good scoring positions. Limiting what they can do off the ball and around the penalty box will go a long way in returning to Frisco with any points.