10things_SJ

10 things on the San Jose Earthquakes

And here we go! Finally, the Montreal Impact is getting its sixth season underway this Saturday night at 10pm when it takes on the San Jose Earthquakes at Avaya Stadium (TVA Sports, TSN, 98,5fm & CJAD 800) Here are 10 things to know on the Impact’s first opponent this season.

Context

The 2012 season seems like a lifetime ago in San Jose. Back then, the Quakes dominated the Western Conference with 19 wins. They haven’t made playoffs since then. 2016 was a complicated year in San Jose, with a mere eight wins and, most of all, the worst attack in MLS: 32 goals in 34 games. However, Dominic Kinnear’s men only conceded 40 goals last season, good for the fourth-best defensive record in MLS. Coach Kinnear thus has something to work with, and the club has brought in a number of international signings as well as a Homegrown defender – because of course.

Current form (2017 preseason)

W-D-W-W-W-W

Head coach

Dominic Kinnear (48-39-43 as Earthquakes head coach, 160-129-129 all-time in MLS) has been San Jose Earthquakes head coach since the start of the 2015 season. A head coach in Houston from 2006 to 2014, Kinnear led the Dynamo to four MLS Cup appearances and lifted the trophy twice, in 2006 and 2007. He had landed in Houston in 2005, along with the entire relocated San Jose Earthquakes team that he coached in 2004 and 2005 – Kinnear won the Supporters’ Shield just before the team was moved to Houston. A defender for eight North American teams, Kinnear also won a Mexican Cup and two lower-division championships as a player. The Scotland-born Kinnear has lived in the United States since he was a little boy and won 54 caps for the USMNT.

Top scorer (2016)

Chris Wondolowski (12)

Players to watch

1. Florian Jungwirth (#23) – A Germany youth international up to the U20 level, this 28-year-old centre back is the Quakes’ big signing in defence.

2. Danny Hoesen (#9) – On loan from the Netherlands’ Groningen, Hoesen will be looking to strike a partnership with Chris Wondolowski and help the worst MLS attack in 2016.

3. Fatai Alashe (#27) – The Earthquakes’ go-to guy in front of the back four, he’ll allow the Hykas, Dawkinses and Wondolowskis to express themselves.

Team profile

Here is what Impact Media wrote on September 26, 2016: “Longtime MLS followers know a Dominic Kinnear team when they see one, and this Earthquakes side is no different: this is a team that makes plays on the flanks, through wingers that can provoke the opposition or cross the ball into the box. Lined up in a broad 4-4-2 formation, the Earthquakes want to play in the opposition’s half, but they also want to get there pretty directly. In the middle, Alashe and Cerén offer defensive know-how and an ability to play fine balls to the flanks, from where the team creates most of its goals. The Quakes cross the ball more than almost any other team in MLS, and in the area, Wondolowski still has a knack for turning a half-chance into a goal. However, Wondo’s 10 goals this season make up more than a third of the least productive attack in MLS: 28 goals in 29 games. This being said, the Quakes do a rather good job defensively, especially when it comes to stopping the opponent from playing through the middle. On the flip side, opponents can get at them via the flanks, particularly down the left – and while the Earthquakes hurt opponents with crosses, opponents can hurt them with crosses, too. Set plays are another issue; in September only, the Quakes have conceded seven such goals.”

In 2016:

Shots on target*

Goals scored from inside the penalty area

Goals scored from outside the penalty area

Goals scored on headers

19th (128)

20th (28)

18th (4)

9th (7)

Possession (%)

Big chance conversion (%)

Successful passes in attacking third (%)

Successful duels (%)

11th (49.3%)

19th (37.8%)

9th (65%)

10th (50.4%)

*Source for all data is Opta

Tactical formation

San Jose and 4-4-2 has gone hand in hand for a while. Lineup v. Sacramento Republic FC (February 25): Bingham; Francis, Jungwirth, Bernardez, Lima; Salinas, Godoy, Alashe, Thompson; Dawkins, Ureña.

Last season against the Impact

Things are getting serious on September 28, 2016, in the 87th minute: Evan Bush has Chris Wondolowski in front of him. Between the two players, on the penalty spot, sits a ball. The Impact is leading 2-1, and a win would mean a huge leap toward the MLS Cup Playoffs. Wondolowski, aiming for his brace, starts his run-up. But it’s all for nothing. Bush stops the PK, and minutes later, Johan Venegas grabs a third for the Bleu-blanc-noir. Nacho Piatti and Dominic Oduro also score in this 3-1 win.

Injuries, absences and call-ups (as of March 1)

D Marwell Wynne (heart)
M Marc Pelosi (knee)
F Quincy Amarikwa (ACL)

Next games

San Jose Earthquakes v Vancouver Whitecaps FC (MLS, March 11)
Sporting Kansas City v San Jose Earthquakes (MLS, March 18)
New York City FC v San Jose Earthquakes (MLS, April 1)

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