Want to talk parity? The Quakes finished second-to-last in MLS last season, ahead of only Montreal. Now they are in second place overall. New England Revolution finished in second place in the East, and second-place in the playoffs, losing to the Galaxy in the MLS Cup finals. Now THEY are second-to-last, and still looking for their first goal. What happened??
A lot. The Quakes made a lot of moves in the off-season, bringing in a new head coach, new players like Renato, Nyassi, and Wynne, and a new DP in Emeghara. The Quakes also played the end of last season with a roster decimated by injuries, most of whom are healthy now. New England did relatively little in the off-season. They also began the year without two of its key stars: Lee Nguyen (who had his first start last week) and Jermaine Jones. Without those two in the line-up, New England is a very vulnerable team, and their record shows it.
How the Quakes Match Up With New England
The Revs lack defense. The Revs still do not have Jermaine Jones available to play, although he did start practicing this week. He is a huge missing piece to the Revolution’s defense. Without him, the Revs average a 1.67 in goals conceded* (tied with Chicago and Philly for last in the league having given up five goals in three games), and have a league-worst -5 goal differential. Factoring in all the defensive stats (aerials won, interceptions, tackles, etc), they are ranked last in defense overall* in the league.
The Refs lack offense. They are one of three teams yet to score, with Colorado and Montreal. The Revs average 9.3 shots per game (third to last) and two shots on target per game (second to last). Add it all up and don’t be surprised that the Revs are also ranked last offensively.* When you take a team with that’s ranked last in defense AND offense, it’s easy to assume the Quakes should roll in New England. But anything is possible, so don’t count those chickens yet!!
Notable New England players to watch for include USMNT veteran midfielder Lee Nguyen (who I think should be given more time by Klinsmann), USMNT veteran forward Juan Agudelo (a target of Premiere League Stoke City, just 22 years old and in his sixth season of professional soccer!), homegrown midfielders Scott Caldwell and Diego Fagundez, and veteran GK Bobby Shuttleworth (who had a 1.25 GAA last season). Don’t count on seeing Jermaine Jones. It should be said that last season, the Revs were 11-2-4 at home, and they were much improved defensively last week, so I would expect a close game.
Expected Quakes Line-up Formation and Players
The Quakes will be missing Fatai Alashe for U-23 team duty, Tommy Thompson for U-20 duty, and Lenny who had a step-back in training this week. I would expect Kinnear to use the same formation that’s worked thus far: 4-2-3-1. Bingham at GK, Wynne at RB, Francis at LB, Goodson and Bernardez at CB, Koval and Pierazzi as DMs, Nyassi at RW, MPG as CM, Emeghara at LW, and Wondo up top. I would not be surprised to see Leandro Barrera get his first minutes this week, either.
Bench Players: Leadro Barrera (M), Cordell Cato (M), Ty Harden (D), Adam Jahn (F), Bryan Meredith (GK), Shea Salinas (M), Khari Stephenson (M).
Ineligible Quakes Players:
- Fatai Alashe (U-23 call up)
- Tommy Thompson (U-20 call up)
- Mark Sherrod (knee surgery)
- Jordan Stewart (calf strain)
- Paulo Renato (hamstring)
- Steven Lenhart (still recovering from knee surgery, had a step back in training this week, ruled out for Saturday’s game)
2-1 Quakes. The stats say the Quakes should roll, but New England is tough at home. I’m predicting a win by one goal, but not a blow-out. I’m also predicting New England scores their first of the year as Chicago did last week against us, especially with Nguyen back in the lineup for his second game of the season and Agudelo up top. However, I would not be surprised to see a 1-1 draw.
- Dubbers Sports Bar in downtown Salinas.
- SF Athletic Club in San Francisco
- Commonwealth Cafe & Public House in Oakland
- Rookies Sports Bar in San Jose (both the Faultline and Casbah will be there)
- The Englander in San Leandro (101 Parrott st, San Leandro near the BART station) San Jose Ultras Viewing Party
*All stats are at the time of writing and subject to change throughout the year!