The San Jose Earthquakes had to make a few changes to the starting line-up ahead of their Avaya Stadium grand opening match against the Chicago Fire, but they were still able to collect another win and move into second place in the Western Conference.
Center backs Clarence Goodson and Ty Harden started for head coach Dominic Kinnear, replacing the previous week's starters Victor Bernardez and Paulo Renato, and both defenders played key roles in the Quakes 2-1 victory over the Fire. Bernardez has served a one-game suspension for a red card received against the Sounders in week two and is expected to be available for selection against this week's opponent the New England Revolution. Renato, who suffered a hamstring strain, is not expected to travel with the team back east for Saturday's match.
"It's good we have choices now," said Kinnear following Tuesday's training session at the team's practice facility. "As far as this weekend goes, I'd be surprised if he was available."
With Renato ruled out, Kinnear said that he would choose two of Goodson, Harden, and Bernardez to start against the Revs, but he chose not to share who the front-runners heading into the weekend.
Left back Shaun Francis was back at training, though he did leave the field with ice on his right ankle. The defender appeared to suffer in an injury on Sunday during a game that was the worst of his three starts so far this season, but Kinnear ruled out any lingering effects that would prevent Francis from making his fourth straight start of the year when the Quakes travel to Foxborough.
"He's fine," said Kinnear. "He took a knock, but it was pretty minor. He trained today so he is fine."
If Francis was unable to go this Saturday, Kinnear would have a difficult decision to make because veteran defender Jordan Stewart is still sidelined with a calf injury. The prognosis for the Englishman looks much better than it did a week ago, as an MRI scan on his troublesome leg came back negative.
"He's feeling better," said Kinnear. "He wasn't out on the field today, but he did a cardio workout in the gym instead. Obviously, we would love to see him out here. The scan results have put his mind at ease."
Another veteran that appeared to be on track a week ago to make it back into the match-day 18 was forward Steven Lenhart. The target forward had an on-again/off-again preseason in his efforts to return from a knee injury, so Kinnear tried to make sure Lenhart didn't try to do too much too early. However, following a week of full training, Lenhart suffered a slight setback and has traveled to Southern California to seek additional treatment.
"He's away working with some guy in LA, a soft-tissue masseuse," said Kinnear, not faulting Lenhart for his efforts to get back on the training field. "It's a reaction to hard work is what the problem is now. He looks good, he's feeling good, and then... how are you going to feel tomorrow? He may train today, but you don't know what his reaction will be tomorrow. And that's the issue with him, having to get through a week with no aftereffects."
Fellow target man Mark Sherrod is also out indefinitely, so the Earthquakes are left with third-year forward Adam Jahn at that position. That hasn't been a huge issue for San Jose because Jahn has been very effective off the bench for the Quakes, and Kinnear has moved away from starting a target forward in his efforts to get all three of his designated players on the field at the same time.
Another change that will be required this weekend comes in the midfield as Fatai Alashe, who scored an MLS Goal of the Week nominated goal to open his MLS account against the Fire, is away with the U.S. U-23 men's national team for a pair of friendlies in Europe. The Quakes rookie, who stepped into the starting lineup prior to the match at the Seattle Sounders, will likely be replaced by the man that he himself replaced in the first time, Jean-Baptiste Pierazzi.
"Yeah, that makes sense," said Kinnear. "We were happy for Fatai, but it caught us by surprise. We are personally bummed, but professionally we are really happy for him. I thought he was playing good, and you don't want to weaken your squad, but anytime guys get called in for any type of national team, you're really happy for the guys, and you hope they go and play well."
Khari Stephenson is another option to replace Alashe in the Starting XI, and he has been participating fully in training, but the Jamaican will likely not get the call ahead of Pierazzi. Homegrown starlet Tommy Thompson is not available as he is currently training with the U.S. U-20 men's national team ahead of a friendly against England next Monday.
Projected San Jose Earthquakes Starting XI vs New England Revolution