The first thing the Quakes need to do to beat Real Salt Lake is to find a way to both encourage and, at the same time, put a stop to a couple of successful, goal hungry, young players.
They need to encourage Fatai Alashe. Alashe, 21, scored not only his first MLS goal but also the first ever regular season goal in the brand-new Avaya Stadium against Chicago. Alashe showed his continuing hunger for goal recently, coming on as a sub for the USA U23 team and scoring the 5th goal in a 5-2 away victory over Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The youth that San Jose needs to find a way to somehow contain is that of Real Salt Lake’s Jordan Allen. The 19 year-old scored a dramatic, late headed winner for Salt Lake last week against Toronto FC.
The second thing the Quakes need is for midfield spearhead Matias Perez Garcia to play well. Key to Garcia being able to function efficiently will be the cohesion of the midfield players behind him. In recent seasons central midfield has traditionally proved to be a major problem area for San Jose. The likes of Jean-Baptiste Pierrazi, JJ Koval, Khari Stephenson, and Sanna Nyassi simply have to find a way to link passes and control the width of the field. Accomplish this and they will have built a pipeline to Garcia, freeing him to feed San Jose’s strikers.
One of the keys to Real Salt Lake’s victory over Toronto FC last week was the way their defense effectively limited the number of opportunities the Canadians had on goal. Of course, one of the main stumbling blocks to gaining midfield control for the Quakes is going to be finding a way to neutralize the experienced midfield generalship of Real Salt Lake’s Kyle Beckerman.
Talking of Beckerman, his recent comments recognizing Wondo as a super dangerous player you always have to watch, brings us to thing number three.
The third thing Dominic Kinnear’s team need to do is quite simple, take that forward motion through midfield and crown it by putting the ball in the net. Chris Wondolowski is an iconic player for the San Jose team and with good reason, but the world of soccer is very much a “what have you done for me lately” kind of place. Wondolowski is certainly not the kind of player to ever think in terms of resting on his laurels, but it will be vital to his team’s chances of success against Salt Lake that he makes sure that he capitalizes on any half chance that drops his way. With the recently rechristened Innocent spearheading the attack alongside him the fire power is certainly there. One man back from international duty who will be intent on stopping this happening is Salt Lake’s goalkeeper Nick Rimando.
So there it is, nicely balanced and easy to see at a glance, San Jose after 4 games have 2 wins, 2 losses, 6 goals scored, 6 goals conceded. They will need to be firing on all cylinders Easter Sunday to tip that balance their way with a win against Real Salt Lake.