The San Jose Earthquakes play their third match of a three match road trip today in Minneapolis. To this point it has gone as expected: The Quakes have tied one game (a scoreless draw in New England) and lost another (a 2-0 defeat at the hands of the Houston Dynamo). That would put the onus on the match today for the Quakes to come away with three points and get four in total from this 3 match stretch. As I stated from the outset, the clash against the Loons seems like the best opportunity for San Jose to get a road win, and to thrust themselves right back into the mix in the Western conference, as right now they are teetering just above the red line.
For MUFC, all eyes fall on Christian Ramirez, as he is tied for the second for most goals in MLS this year, with five finding the back of the net through eight matches, but if you ask the Quakes, they will be looking to break through the Loons porous defense, a team effort that has surrendered the most goals in Major League Soccer this season, but one that is improving. In the first four matches of the season, Minnesota gave up 18 of their 24 goals surrendered, and in three of those matches the opposition scored five or more goals. Since then, they have given up just six goals over four matches, or 1.5 goals per game.
For San Jose, they are averaging a goal per game right now, but have not scored multiple goals in a game since the three they scored in the second match of the season. In four road matches this year, the quakes have scored just 2 goals, and they will be looking for the Captain, Chris Wondolowski to net his 63rd road goal of all time, which would tie him with Landon Donovan for most road goals in MLS history. But the Quakes also need more production from newcomers on the team, specifically Jahmir Hyka, and Danny Hoesen. Both came to the quakes by way of Targeted Allocation Money, and while neither are receiving designated player type money, both represent sizable investments, and both are expected to have sizable contributions to the team.
One thing to watch for San Jose: When will the substitutions come. Of the ten goals the team has surrendered this year, five have come in the 61st minute or later, which could be attributed to fatigue, mental or physical.