The Quakes play their third straight road game in Minnesota, wrapping up a North American tour which also saw stops at Boston and Houston. The good news: the Quakes should win, even if it is a road game.
Minnesota has a very vulnerable defense. In eight games, the Loons have given up 24 goals and boast a -11 goal differential, both of which lead MLS. The only the way the Quakes could not take home the three points is by failing to take advantage of Minnesota’s lackluster defense by playing the flat 4-4-2, the conservative formation they’ve been shy to abandon since 2016. Believe it or not, I’m expecting the 4-4-2, but not due to Dom’s ineptitude at being a head coach.
Put on your tinfoil hats . . .
Ironically, a loss might be in both Kinnear and Fioranelli’s best interests. If Kinnear rolls out the empty bucket, he is telling GM Jesse Fioranelli he wants to be fired. It is a formation which will give San Jose the worst chance at winning since it fails to take advantage of Minnesota’s terrible defense. Yet being fired is tactical brilliance from Dom. It allows Kinnear to take home his remaining salary while opening the door to fill other coaching vacancies, such as replacing Frank Yallop as the Phoenix Rising FC head coach. With Dom’s departure, Fioranelli could finally start putting his fingerprint on the team through the appointment of his own interim head coach, and there’s no easier way to fire a coach than by failing to win seven games, the latest against a defensively awful team by running a formation which doesn’t challenge that defense. (Did Jesse and Dom make a backroom handshake prior to going into this match?) With the arrival of former Quakes Sam Cronin from Colorado, Minnesota has earned points in their previous two games, so Minnesota could be unwitting pawns in Fioranelli and Kinnear’s secret schemes. Insert maniacal laugh)
Formations and Players
The Quakes defense will have its hands full with Christian Ramirez, who has five goals this season. Also watch out Kevin Molino, the former OCSC Lion and international teammate of Cordell Cato, who has three goals and three assists in 2017. Expect Minnesota to run the same formation that got them a shutout win versus Colorado last week, a 4-2-3-1 with Cronin and Ibson as defensive mids to shore up a shaky defense. Shuttleworth will be in goal with a backline of Jerome Thiesson, Brent Kallman, Francisco Calvo, and Marc Birch. Offensively, Ramirez will be at forward with Miguel Ibarra, Johan Venegas, and Molino behind him.
As previously mentioned, expect the 4-4-2 from San Jose. Bingham in goal, with the backline of Lima, Bernardez, Jungwirth, and Francis. Hyka, Ceren, Godoy, and Cato will probably start in the midfield, with Urena and Wondo up top. If Fatai gets the start at center-back, or Tommy gets the start in the midfield, the fix is probably in.
Final Score Predictions
Despite Dom and Fioranelli’s devious efforts, I’m guessing the Quakes take advantage of the Minnesota defense and score two goals. I’m also guessing the Quakes defense throws a shutout, because players don’t play to lose. 2-0 San Jose.