August 19, 2015. The Quakes marched into Sporting Park (now Children’s Mercy Park), switched to the 4-4-2 with a high press, and dominated Sporting Kansas City 5-0. It was a breakout game for the recently-signed Anibal Godoy, and SKC’s first home loss all season up to that point.
The Quakes are back in Kansas City, and looking to start the season with three straight wins, which would be a franchise record. Don’t expect another 5-0 thrashing, but there’s no reason the Quakes cannot take home three points.
Last season, the Quakes had just one road win. While starting the season off 2-0-0 is a pleasant beginning, seeing how the team performs on the road should provide some answers to the one big question fans have been asking since opening day: is this team for real? San Jose’s comeback over Vancouver was due in part to the Whitecaps down a man and resting key players like Alphoso Davies for their CCL game. For many fans like myself, the jury is still out.
Peter Vermes–my pick as the one that should be in charge of the U.S. Men’s National Team–has built a winning program. Graham Zusi (just called up), Benny Feilhaber, Matt Besler, Dom Dwyer, and Tim Melia are all household-name players. Vermes’s ability to scout and employ talent is a major reason why Sporting KC has won an MLS Cup and two U.S. Open Cup trophies during his tenure. SKC also has yet to allow a single goal thanks in part to the defensive gems in former Quake Ike Opara and Besler, including a 0-0 draw versus juggernaut FC Dallas. The Quakes will have some work to do to break that goalless streak.
Line-Ups & Formations
I expect the Quakes to use the same formation they’ve been running, an empty-bucket 4-4-2. The only difference between last week and this week is Jahmir Hyka, who I predict will (unfairly) start in place of Tommy Thompson. Bingham in goal, Lima, Flo, Muma, and Francis on the backline, Hyka, Fatai, Godoy, and Dawkins in the midfield with Marco Urena and Wondo up top.
Sporting KC should have the usual suspects in the starting XI and running the 4-3-3: Melia in goal, Zusi, Opara, Besler, Sinovic on the backline, Espinosa, Sanchez, and Feilhaber playing the midfield. I wouldn’t be suprised to see a change at forward as SKC has yet to score since October of last season (against the Quakes), so possibly expect to see Latif Blessing get the start over Jimmy Madranda. Dwyer is a staple, and Gerso Fernandes should be starting given his strong performance versus FC Dallas last week.
Final Score Prediction
A stout SKC defense versus a solid SJE defense should see a low scoreline. I’m also sure Vermes has his guys prepared to be all over Godoy like white on rice, so don’t expect too much from the Panamaniac in week three. If Dawkins gets the start, I’m betting a 1-1 draw; he is the weakest link in the defensive chain, yet Dom keeps starting him. If Tommy and Hyka get the start, going with a 1-0 road win for the boys in black.
The San Jose Ultras are having a watch party at 1610 Alum Rock Ave in San Jose. All fans are welcome. Go Quakes!