SAN JOSE, CA- After two games into the Jesse Fioranelli campaign, the San Jose Earthquakes find themselves with a total of six points and third on the Western Conference table. An identical start to last year’s edition, as the Quakes started the season with six points after home victories against Colorado and Portland. Saturday will once again give the Bay-Area side the opportunity to write history in its third game of a stretching 34-game season. The Quakes have yet to ever start the season with three consecutive victories; a feat they will have to make reality at “The Blue Hell.”
San Jose Earthquakes Look for Record Start Against Sporting Kansas City
Earning nine points from the first three matches will not be the only record at stake. Quakes’ captain Chris Wondolowski has the opportunity to surpass MLS great Landon Donovan in most all-time away goals scored by registering nothing less than a brace. Coach Dom Kinnear emphasized that the Black and Blue will continue its high press tactics which were absent against Vancouver, but were vital in the season opener. Sporting KC, under manager Peter Vermes, lives and breaths the same tactical method. It will come down to what side will be first to the punch.
Sporting has yet to earn a victory in their first two games: two draws, with no goals conceded or registered. Yet Vermes’ men find themselves sixth in the Western Conference standings. But anything but three points will start major questioning in Kansas City. Coach Kinnear recognizes Sporting KC’s abilities to press high with its pacy wingers and well glued midfield. The two-time MLS Cup winning coach made it evident that his men will as well carry forward, framing this game to be physically demanding from the very first whistle.
“Yeah, I think so, I think it’s important to do that,” Kinnear said about the press. “You go into Kansas City and you sit back and try to absorb pressure; they feed off of that. So it’s for us that we try to make the field small and try to win the ball in good areas where we can attack them.”
Out of the 185 minutes San Jose have played this year, a total of 96 minutes have been played against ten men. What most teams do not experience in an entire season has been granted to Earthquakes early on. Sporting KC are yet to be given a red card in regular season play since August 27th of last year in a game against Philadelphia Union (according to sportingkc.com) which translates Vermes’ discipline on his squad. Against 11 men or less, Quakes scoring abilities will have to be generated through individual tendencies.
“You have to be dangerous when you have the ball, take advantage of your choices, and set pieces,” said Kinnear. “So, for us, open the field up and taking advantage of our one on one opportunities is going to be important.”
Predicted Starting XI
Jahmir Hyka finds his way into my predicted starting XI due to his influential performance against Vancouver Whitecaps on a 45 minute cameo. He not only assisted Anibal Godoy for the match-winning rocket, but as well used his craftiness to generate the match-leveling strike by Nick Lima. Coach Kinnear has expressed the importance of the “Albanian Messi” to his squad, and his performances tell why. After an entire month in the Bay Area, it is time to feature the TAM-steal on the pitch with the rest of the starting cast.