New England Soccer Today

Scouting Report: #SJEarthquakes

Photo credit: Prost Amerika

Photo credit: Prost Amerika

In the first-ever game at San Jose’s brand-new Avaya Stadium, the Quakes beat the Fire 2-1. Here’s a scouting report on San Jose, who’ll face the Revolution on Saturday.

San Jose basically used a 4-3-3 formation, and I’ll comment on the players from back to front.

Goalkeeper: David Bingham performed generally well. The clear highlight of his day was the spectacular save of a header by Eric Gehrig in the game’s 32nd minute. Balancing this was a 12th-minute goof when he kicked a ball right into Fire forward, Quincy Amarikwa. The ball caromed directly to Harry Schipp, who had a good chance to kick it on net, but luckily for San Jose failed to do so. Otherwise, Bingham was not seriously challenged by the Fire offense. My opinion? He’s not as good as Bobby Shuttleworth, but coach Dom Kinnear wouldn’t have him in there if he wasn’t pretty strong.

Defense: The back four, from left to right, were Shaun Francis, Ty Harden, Clarence Goodson, and Marvell Wynne. Centerbacks Harden and Goodson were filling in for regulars Victor Bernadez (suspended) and Paulo Renato (injured). The pair did well, especially in the second half when the team held Chicago scoreless (though Harden was beaten badly by Amarikwa in the 50th minute). Harden also scored the second goal. Francis and Wynne are both fast and able to recover from minor marking mistakes. Both are also capable of joining in on the attack.

Midfield: the main factor in the midfield was Matias Perez Garcia, a 5-5 experienced hand with “made–in-South-America” written all over him (to be specific, he hails from Argentina). To me, his credentials were apparent even before he kicked a ball – just from the elaborate care he took when teeing the ball up before kicking a set piece. In point of fact, both San Jose goals resulted from free kicks of his, and he very nearly set up a third goal in the 64th minute of the game, when his free kick resulted in Chris Wondolowski’s being wide open in front of the goal. In sum, he is a dangerous left-footed kicker of set pieces.

Beyond his free kicks, his play-making efforts as center mid were also very noticeable. He further shone when he stole the ball from a totally unaware Amarikwa in the 52 minute. If I were the Revs, I’d watch him closely in the run of play and focus closely on San Jose’s set pieces. By my book, Perez was clearly man of the match.

J.J. Koval and Fatai Alashe, the two outside midfielders contributed to the victory, but Koval, in the first half, made a very ill–advised back pass to keeper Bingham, causing the aforementioned Eric Gehrig header. Alashe, the first goal scorer for San Jose, should have been marking the dangerous Schipp more closely when he scored Chicago’s goal. He was guilty of ball watching. Alashe was subsequently called up by the U.S. U-23s, and will not be available on Saturday.

Forwards: The ball just didn’t fall for Chris Wondolowski, the big-gun national-team player who scored two goals vs Seattle last week. The only golden chance he had was defended beautifully by the Chicago defense. The Revs should watch him closely because he has to get more chances on Saturday than he did yesterday. Left-winger Innocent Emeghara is fast and skillful, a handful for any right back. He came very close to scoring.

Sanna Nyassi (twin brother of ex-Rev Sainly Niassi) played right wing. Although not as dangerous as Emeghara, like most wingers, he has some skill, and is fast.

San Jose has three designated players, and they have turned out to be the heart of the team, three players well-chosen by the San Jose brass. They are Wondolowski, Emeghara, and, last but not least, Perez Garcia. If the Revs can stop these three, they have an excellent chance of getting a result. Other players on the team have talent but are not so experienced and can be error-prone.

Kinnear is an experienced and smart coach, one who is also very popular with his players. A victory next Saturday would be a feather in Jay Heaps’s and the Revs’ caps.

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