Last year, the then-last place Philadelphia Union came to Avaya and smashed our dreams of a playoff run with a 2-1 loss thanks two two Conor Casey goals. This time things are different: Philly is second in the East with (all of) 12 points, are looking to make a playoff run of their own in 2016, and have home field advantage. Also, the Union have won four of their last six, so 12 points could be a deceptive measure of a team that’s clicking.
The Quakes come into Philly tied for third in the West with 14 points, but the Quakes’ road record leaves much to be desired: one point in three games. One of the keys to making the playoffs for the Quakes will be having a successful road record, and there’s no better place to start than Philly.
Philly will be missing defender Fabinho (Fabio Alves) due to yellow card accumulation. The Quakes will be without Clarence Goodson due to back problems and his backup Andres Imperiale due to a retroactive suspension by the MLS Disciplinary Committee. The good news is that Jordan Stewart appears to be healthy and ready to play.
The Quakes have to be mindful of forward C.J. Sapong, who has four goals this season and could challenge the Quakes backline missing a regular center-back. Also, I’m expecting Shaun Francis to start as Stewart may not be fit enough to go a full 90, especially coming off an injury. It could get dicey for the Quakes on the attack. Let’s hope Jordan Stewart can start to shore up that defense as Francis hasn’t had the best start in 2016.
Philly should be starting Sapong, with midfielders Chris Pontius, Sebastian LeToux, and Roland Alberg. Defensively, Vincent Noguiera should be starting at DM, with Keegan Rosenbury, Josh Yaro, and Richie Marquez on the backline. I’m not sure who head-coach Jim Curtin will tap to fill in for Fabinho. Jamaican Andre Blake should start in goal.
The Quakes will probably roll out the flat 4-4-2, as their defensive line is going to need all the help it can get from two defensive midfielders. Expect Wynne to shift to centerback while Kofi Sarkodie plays rightback, Bernardez as the left center-back, and Shaun Francis at left-back. Fatai Alashe and Anibal Godoy should get the start at defensive midfield, with Simon Dawkins on the right and Alberto Quintero the left for the midfield. Wondo will certainly play a full 90, and Quincy will probably get the start, although he will be on a short leash. Quincy has just six shots on goal in eight games for San Jose. In other words, Wondo has more goals than Quincy has chances to score. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Innocent come in at the half if Quincy isn’t producing the first half.
The Quakes Achilles’ Heal is the counter-attack. Portland exploited it to the tune of three (should have been four) goals a few weeks ago, and it may bite them with the 4-2-3-1 formation Philly usually plays. Sporting KC had a few breakaways of their own last week, which were saved by a few non-calls on which Andres Imperiale was the guilty party to keep the shutout. Don’t expect the same treatment from the refs this time around.
Final Score Prediction
Quakes on the road, beat up defense, susceptible to the counter-attack should mean a 2-1 loss. I’m saying the Quakes prepared a solid game-plan, fixed the mistakes, and we might see Jordan Stewart get the start, so I’m predicting a 2-2 draw.
Game time at 1:00pm. Viewing party at Golden State Brewery (right??).