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Five Things to Watch: San Jose Earthquakes vs. Minnesota United FC

Here are five things to watch in the Quakes’ second game of the season

MLS: San Jose Earthquakes at Minnesota United FC Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The Quakes take on Minnesota United FC Saturday at 5 p.m. [Pacific] at home to try to get their first victory of the season. We already got a feel for what Minnesota brings to the table through a quick conversation with Loons blog E Pluribus Loonum. Now, let’s take a look at five storylines ahead of matchday two.

Will Danny Hoesen get his first start of the season?

Both managing editor Oz Lucero and I feel Hoesen needs to start for the Quakes to have their best shot of winning this season, simply because San Jose needs to score a lot to overcome defensive deficiencies. Getting to full match fitness may be why Hoesen didn’t get the start in the opener — so keep an eye on that Saturday.

Can San Jose better adjust to Almeyda’s man-marking strategy in their own third?

The Earthquakes looked very competent moving the ball from their own third to the attacking third. That’s one part of new head coach Matias Almeyda’s system that’s on the road to success. The other part [aggressive man-marking all over the pitch] ... not so much. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad strategy, it just means it’s either going to a) take some time, b) take new players or c) some combination of the two.

How will the Quakes defend a more dynamic attacking threat?

To clarify — I mean an attacking threat that does not primarily run through one or two very skilled players. It appears Minnesota is trying to spread the wealth, which should provide an interesting test for San Jose. The Loons scored three times against Vancouver in their home opener, one came off a penalty and all three came from different scorers. Still, they attempted 15 shots [slightly above average] with only a slight possession advantage.

Can San Jose get Wondo more involved in the attack?

This has nothing to do with the goal-scoring record he’s sure to pick up sooner rather than later. Chris Wondolowski had just two shots in 90 minutes of play, but both came inside the box [Danny Hoesen also had a shot from a dangerous area] while many midfielders took shots from less desirable areas. The point is that San Jose did a fine job, relatively speaking, of getting the ball to midfield and then struggled to get it into the penalty area. That distribution needs to be better against Minnesota.

Which team will attempt more passes?

[Please don’t count passes, I’m worried about your mental health]. San Jose connected on 569 passes against Montreal [88 percent] while Minnesota completed 512 passes [82 percent] in its win against Vancouver. Both of those numbers are above average [Montreal only completed 294 passes] and indicate a similar style of play. Those can co-exist ... up to a point. There are only 90 minutes in a match and it will be interesting to see who gets the lion’s share of the ball at Avaya Stadium on Saturday.