San José Earthquakes sit at seventh in the West, where they will stay (or fall, I don't care.) If you've read any of the Twitter responses to my post last week about Toronto, you'd know the world thinks I'm crazy and an optimist. Well not much has changed in that regard; the Seattle Sounders will go to the open bar known as Avaya Stadium in a city so wonderful...nope. Shouldn't say San Jose and wonderful without not in the middle. Somehow though, the 'Quakes have been better against the Sounders than almost anyone else this year (the rivalry right?) and overall they've won four of the last five (losing last time out) but if you look at the big picture they've won four of their last 11. Even the Sounders can take solace they haven't been THAT bad.
San Jose is still a foul driven, physical, goonie, bad hairdo outfit led by one of the Kings of brutalizing American soccer, Dominic Kinnear. If you weren't sure by now, he encourages the true American Football spirit of tackling, a hard Nose Tackle at the base of a 4-3-3. Chris Wondolowski is their quarterback and like the other two in the Bay Area, he draws his share of hits, can't throw worth a darn and disappoints his supporters weekly. The only supposed savior in the attack has been moved to an attacking midfield role this season where he's been much less effective. The 13 goals without an assist does not an attacking leader make. In fact, no one else on this side has more than five goals, though Quincy Amarikwa does have four in the ten games he's played since joining San Jose. To go with all this, only Matias Perez Garcia shows any assist-ability with six. Amarikwa has another three, from playing in front of goal, and Shea Salinas with four from set pieces mostly. They play the long ball on counters and overall just suck.
Once upon a time the Earthquakes defense would get the ball and clear it 40 yards for a winger or striker to run on to. The end. I just told you how every attack for San Jose works and I've still got extra words for the article. All mocking aside though, they are very one dimensional. They play a lot like the USWNT did when Abby Wambach was number one: just knock the ball all the way down and let her deal with it. But Wondolowski and Quincy are not her, or close to it.
The Sounders have two imposing redwoods (because we are in Northern California, right?) with Chad Marshall and Roman Torres who will put an end to San Jose's "tactics." Whether it is O'Neil Fisher or Dylan Remick on the left there is risk with their inexperienced defending but their speed is enough to compensate, and they will be first to respond in long ball situations. Tyrone Mears on the other flank is possibly the best RB in the league; he'll be fine.
The real sticky situations will come in a midfield that is missing Ozzie Alonso, but with a midfield bucket of Erik Friberg and Brad Evans, I'm confident that they'll teach Wondo and Co. a thing or two. In their roles, neither are afraid of making a tactical foul, a very good quality right now.
Defensively the Earthquakes are without Victor Bernandez, a coup for the Sounders who will likely debut Andreas Ivanschitz. A very narrow SJ squad may have to deal with precision of Ivanschitz, the tantalizing trio of Nelson Valdez, Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins (or only a duo of those) and the late runs of either Neagle or Pappa should be ripped apart. The Sounders are 0-2-0 against them this year and haven't won in the last four tries, need this game for their playoff run and the guys know it. On paper our boys are better and are designed to wreck this style of play, so let it happen. 3-0 shutout and then Schmetzer and the team can use the facilities at Avaya stadium as designed.
Since lineup builder is not working for me, here's the text version of the lineup a true 4-3-3:
Left Cornerback- Stewart
Full Safety- Goodson
Strong Safety- Wynne
Right Cornerback- Francis
Left Outside Linebacker- Salinas
Middle Linebacker- Alashe
Right Outside Linebacker- Cato
Left Defensive End- Amarikwa
Nose Tackle- Perez Garcia
Right Defensive End- Wondolowski