The San Jose Earthquakes are back in the friendly confines of Avaya Stadium this Saturday as they face an FC Dallas squad that had been decimated by injuries and international call-ups. The Quakes themselves are missing some key defensive pieces and are hoping to keep up their recent form and stay relevant in the playoff race as the summer begins. Let’s take a look at what they may be up against.
Manager: Luchi Gonzalez
Current Record: 6-6-3 21pts 5th in Western Conference
Gonzalez has been part of the FC Dallas organization since 2013 when he was signed as FC Dallas’s first ever homegrown player in 2013 and is now the number one keeper for Luchi Gonzalez’s squad. He hasn’t really stood out statistically since joining the league and has been on the fringes of the US Men’s National Team after a FIFA approved switch from the Mexican National Team. While that may seem like the resume of a player that may not be in the future plans of his national team, it’s not fair to judge a goalkeeper that is only 23-years-old and already has so much experience behind him.
Reto Ziegler, Reggie Cannon, Matt Hedges, Ryan Hollingshead
This is the backline that Acosta went with last week in a win against Seattle, and with more suspensions added in that match, I would think he is going to go with the same backline as he is on defensive players. This line kept the third highest scoring team in MLS to one goal and looked to be getting even stronger with the return of Cannon and Ziegler. To counter this strong group, Matias Almeyda is going to count on Cristian Espinoza to continue his dazzling display from the wings and feed whoever is in the box ready to put the Quakes on the board.
Pablo Aranguiz, Jacori Hayes, Michael Barrios
With so many injuries and call-ups, this is where the guessing gets tough. Carlos Gruezo, who is fifth in the team in passes with 500 and a mainstay in Gonzalez’s lineup is on international duty for Ecuador. Just about every other midfielder for Dallas is on international duty, and the ones that didn’t get a call are hurt. I don’t need to go into the importance of a strong midfield because we all know how important that group is in controlling the flow of the game. That is most of their job, after all. The question now becomes can the Quakes who are shorthanded themselves take advantage of this beleaguered group. The Quakes are great at keeping, and this weaker group should allow them to continue that dominance into this match. It will be up to Chris Wondolowski, Danny Hoesen, and Shea Salinas to find a way past the staunch defenders in front of Jesse Gonzalez.
Dominique Badji, Thomas Roberts, Jesus Ferreira
While the defensive side of the ball kept one of the highest scoring teams in the league to one goal last week, the attacking side was rather quiet. Both of Dallas’ goals came on own-goals that bounced off a Seattle defender, granted the play needed to be brought in front of the Seattle goal for the lucky bounces. For this team to be considered one of the best in the Western Conference, they are going to need better results from this group but starting after this weekends match in San Jose. At the beginning of the season, there were talks about the Quakes ending this season with the most goals given up in league history while also scoring the least goals in history. Now three months later the Quakes have as many or more goals than eleven teams in the league including FC Dallas. Unfortunately for the Quakes, they will be without Harold Cummings and Anibal Godoy who will represent Panama in the upcoming Gold Cup, and Nick Lima who will represent the US Men’s National team for the upcoming Gold Cup. That is a lot of defense that the Quakes are going to be without this weekend.