After a disappointing loss at Red Bull Arena on Sunday night, the Union now travels across the country to play the San Jose Earthquakes on Wednesday night. We haven’t seen the Earthquakes since the spring of 2018, and they have a lot of changes. On Wednesday after multiple ejections on Saturday against Atlanta, the Quakes will be without their head coach Matias Almeyda. Even more detrimental to San Jose, Captain Chris Wondolowski and young winger Christian Espinoza, they will also miss Wednesday’s game. So let’s take a look at who San Jose will have this coming week.
San Jose’s Projected Starting XI (4-3-2-1): GK Daniel Vega- D Nick Lima, D Florian Jungwirth, D Guram Kashia, D Shea Salinas ©- M Judson, M Anibal Godoy, M Jackson Yueill, M Vako, M Magnus Eriksson, – F Danny Hoesen
Player to watch: Midfielder, Magnus Eriksson
Lineup Analysis: Now this lineup will be a tough one to predict for a few reasons. First of all, the game is in the middle of the week. Teams tend to rest some players and possibly change formations for these kinds of games. Second, San Jose will be without its head coach and captain on Wednesday, so who knows what lineup is put out there. This is a safe lineup guess because San Jose is still in a playoff race, so I don’t see them resting many players. One player they do rest will be Tommy Thompson. Thompson is a talented player who helps support the offense from his outside back position. Shea Salinas comes in to replace him to give his legs a rest and to provide leadership for this side. Without Wondo they need a captain, and I see the former Union original coming into the lineup and rocking the captain’s armband. The player to watch has to be the attacking midfielder, Magnus Eriksson. Eriksson scored last year against the Union and can really strike a ball. He isn’t your flashy number 10 like Toronto’s Alejandro Pozuelo or Portland’s Diego Valeri, but he gets the job done. He is a fantastic passer and puts shots on frame, he does the basics very very well and the Union needs to watch that. Finally, the Union needs to keep an eye on the flank and Vako flying down the side. He has great skill on the ball and can set up plenty of goals. The big question though is if Danny Hoesen can be as deadly in the box as Chris Wondolowksi?
Union’s Projected Starting XI (4-2-3-1): GK Andre Blake- D Kai Wagner, D Aurelien Collin, D Jack Elliott, Raymon Gaddis- M Alejandro Bedoya, M Haris Medunjanin, M Brenden Aaronson, M Jamiro Monteiro, M Fafa Picault- F Kacper Przybylko,
Player to Watch: Midfielder, Fafa Picault
Lineup Analysis: The Union lost Mark McKenzie and Sergio Santos on Sunday, and I believe this will be a big test for Aurelien Collin. It’s simple, play well, and become the starting center back. Coach Curtin has noted Collin is above Auston Trusty on the depth chart, so it’s up to Collin to prove that he should remain the starting center back. I also expect to see Marco Fabian come in at some point since the Union is having issues scoring goals. I expect him to start Sunday, but get back into the swing of things this Wednesday as a sub. I don’t believe the Earthquakes’ outside backs are good enough to handle pressure, and this is where Fafa Picault needs to shine. Nick Lima and Shea Salinas are great supporting the offense, defensively not so much. I also believe Kacper has met his match in the big and strong Guram Kashia, so the attacking has to come from the sides. Expect Fafa to streak down the sides and cause nightmares for this San Jose defense. If he can successfully do that, the Union will have several chances to score on their hands.
Last Contest between the clubs: The last time these two teams played against each other, was way back in April of 2018. The Earthquakes struck first in the first half from a shot by Magnus Eriksson. After several great chances, the Union finally tied the game in the second half with a header from Alejandro Bedoya. Neither team could find the back of the net afterward, and the game ended in a disappointing 1-1 tie.
Match Preview: Both teams have big implications for this game, and it will be a heavily contested battle. The Union will need Bedoya and Medunjanin to patrol the midfield and keep Eriksson from causing any dangerous plays. If they put pressure on San Jose’s midfield this offense shuts down, so Medunjanin and Bedoya will need to make the extra effort on defense this Wednesday. Offensively Aaronson and Picault need to open up space by penetrating the box with one on ones and receiving balls over the top. By getting into the box, Jungwirth and Kashia have to slide over to cover thus freeing up Kacper. No Almeyda, no Wondo, no Espinoza, no problem. I can see the Union stealing three points on the road this week with a 2-0 clean sheet.
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Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports