Categorized | Game Previews

Quakes to take on division leader, again

Posted on 30 April 2008 by Evan White

For the second time in three matches San Jose will be playing the first placed team in the Western Conference. It worked out well for them the first time, when they earned their first win over then number one Colorado in Denver. Head coach Frank Yallop and the Earthquakes look to the effort that knocked the Rapids from their first place pedestal and replicate it this week against FC Dallas. Coming off their first loss of the year against the New England Revolution, Dallas is ready to get back on track against the lowest scoring team in the league. While the underdog role is a burden the expansion Earthquakes will carry this season, Dallas need only look back a of couple weeks to the Quakes-Rapids tilt to know that San Jose should not be underestimated.

To compete with FC Dallas the way they did Colorado, the Quakes must play with intensity and passion. Excitement will not be hard to find on Saturday as San Jose will play their first home game at the newly renovated Buck Shaw Stadium at Santa Clara University. The official home of the Earthquakes 2008 season will see its first action, even though this is not San Jose’s first home game, a 2-0 loss to Chicago at Oakland’s McAfee Coliseum. With the support of their first true home crowd of the 2008 season, San Jose should have no trouble exhibiting inspiration and desire in their performance.

These two things were notably absent in their New York loss, in which the club seemed as if they were playing for a tie. The team and coach were too content with a hard earned point. Late in the game the defensive minded midfielder Joe Vide was subbed in to preserve the 0-0 stalemate. Yallop’s intent to squeak by with the tie was disrupted on a penalty kick, and the Quakes were unable to level the score.

In stoppage time an extra goal was added by New York star Jozy Altidore, and all hope of leaving New York with a tie evaporated. Yallop knew his team was not performing offensively, possibly part of his rationale to substitute the midfielder Vide. After the game Yallop admitted, “For us, we had to make sure we were prepared to get a clean sheet in the second half. I didn’t think we looked like we were going to win the game, to be honest, but I didn’t think they really did either. You just hope to get through the game with maybe not playing great but getting a point at the very least. The goal at the end was really icing on the cake for them. I was hoping to at least come out of here with a point.”

Entering last weekend as the only undefeated team in the league, FC Dallas left home field Pizza Hut Park with a 1-0 blemish on their record at the hands (feet) of New England. A tight game throughout, a 72nd minute Khano Smith goal was the only score. The two teams were able to muster only nine shots on goal the whole match. Hoops coach Steve Morrow delivered a post game speech eerily reminiscent of Yallop’s sentiments after the Quake’s loss to Chicago, saying, “I think we deserved to get something out of the game. I think New England came in here and stole the game from us; we completed dominated the game from start to finish. We’re very, very disappointed to lose that game. They had one shot on goal the second half, and we’re extremely disappointed.”

The Hoops have had a fairly successful season so far offensively despite what their last performance would suggest. New England’s shutout ended Kenny Cooper’s streak of three consecutive games with at least one goal. His four goals have him tied for second in the league behind only Landon Donovan’s eight. The Earthquakes need to keep him out of dangerous situations, and hope to deny him the ball as much as possible.

FCD has been able to find other sources of offense as well. Cooper’s forward counterparts have been productive of late, registering a goal or assist in two of Dallas’s last three games. The midfield has been productive, too, scoring three of the team’s five goals not netted by Cooper. Mid Arturo Alvarez has been arguably the second most dangerous threat for FC Dallas thus far, with two goals and two assists on the season. His ability to create and feed off his teammates has allowed him to lead the club in shots on goal with six.

A critical challenge for the Earthquakes will be slowing Dallas’s fast starts. The Texan team has yet to trail an opponent at the half—almost 65% of their goals have come in the first half. Although risky, the Earthquakes can apply a defensive strategy for Kenny Cooper. Second in the league in goals, Cooper is also second in the league in offside penalties with nine in five games. If San Jose can effectively trap Cooper in his runs without giving up the big mistake, they could significantly impede Cooper’s impact on the game without giving him the full focus of their defense. Coupled with a raucous home crowd, San Jose might have the fire to take down another member of the MLS elite. If FC Dallas doesn’t think so, they should ask the Rapids.

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