1. The West is a crowded place right now. The LA Galaxy sit in 8th place in the standings with 18 points, they are just 8 points back of first place Sporting KC, which means the table could essentially be turned on it’s head in a matter of few weeks time. It also means that the razor thin margin of error puts the onus on each team individually, you can’t expect anyone else to do the work, another Western team getting a win over another Western team has the potential to help you forward int eh standings. Right now, the only western teams that can win this weekend and not substantially shake things up are Minnesota, Colorado, and Real Salt Lake. The Quakes currently sit in 7th, with 19 points, but are only in 7th due the fact that they’ve scored two less goals than 6th place Seattle, also with 19 points, and 5th place Vancouver, also with 19 points, has a level goal differential. The take away? Again, it’s crowded out west.
2. Suspensions take hold. The Earthquakes are going to be without two key players today in midfielder Darwin Ceren (red card), and forward Marco Urena (suspended by MLS for “violent contact” with Portland GK Jake Gleesson). It will be interesting to see what SJ head coach Dominic Kinnear does with the lineup. You would imagine that Danny Hoesen would slide in next to Wondo up top at Forward, but the midfield becomes a bit more interesting. My guess is that Tommy Thompson lines up as a center midfielder alongside Anibal Goodoy, but we’ve also seen Simon Dawkins line up in the middle in the past as well. I would expect Hyka will be placed as a wing, which is a possibility for Thompson as well. Perhaps this opens the door for rookie Jackson Yueill, who scored his first goal as a professional in San Jose’s Wednesday night US Open Cup win over the Deltas, to make his first start?
3. This is Florian Jungwirth’s ankle:
Ankles are not supposed to look like that, I think. Mine don’t, at least. Jungwirth, one of the big offseason acquisitions for the Earthquakes, suffered that ankle injury Wednesday night against the Deltas, and he is out for Saturday’s match. An emotional leader, on and off the pitch, Flo has been a huge part of the Quake’s defensive success, and he has notched a couple goals and assists as well. Stopping the attack of Sporting KC, with Benny Feilhaber, Gerso Fernandez, Dominik Dwyer, and even Graham Zusi (who is tied for the team lead in assists with 3) was going to be hard even with Florian in the lineup, but now that he’s out, that is going to be even more of a challenge. Kinnear tinkered with a 3-5-2 lineup on Wednesday night, and we might see something similar with Imperiale, Bernardez, and Lima tonight.
4. This is going to be a fun one to watch. SKC are indeed the leaders in the west right now, but the Quakes usually play them quite well, especially at home, with an overall record hosting SKC of 16 wins, 5 losses, and 6 ties. Another factor to add in is that the Quakes will be playing with a bit of desperation, knowing they need to notch a win to keep pace in the hyper competitive west. Add into that a game time temperature that is sure to be roasting, and we could be in for some flaring emotions on par with rage of the sun right now in the bay area.