Two things will happen on Saturday when the Earthquakes visit the Rapids: the Quakes will win, and fans will rejoice. Or the Quakes will draw and/or lose, and fans will go back to sharpening their #KinnearOut knives. The Quakes should win, and win bigly.
Colorado is showing signs of San Jose’s 2013 season, in which the team went from first to worst in one off-season. Colorado finished 2016 on a high note, second overall in MLS with 58 points, two off of Supporters’ Shield victor FC Dallas. Going into today’s match, Colorado is last in MLS with four points in eight games, and winless since their season opener versus the New England Revolution. Trading away team captain Sam Cronin may not have been the best personnel decision for Colorado.
Colorado is tied in the league for fewest goals scored (five), which gives them an unfathomable 0.625 overall goals-per-game average. Meanwhile the Quakes are tied for fourth in MLS with just 10 goals allowed, and the Quakes are riding a two game shutout streak. Colorado should not score, let alone have a multi-goal game.
San Jose should also see a fair share of scoring opportunities. The Quakes are third in the league in overall shots (139) and tied for sixth in the league in shots on target (47). However, the Rapids defense is much better than their offense, allowing only 12 goals thus far.
Some other X-factors should also be considered. The Quakes have one road-win all season, and two road wins since 2016, so winning on the road is no easy feat for San Jose. Also, the Quakes go into today’s match with two more games in a week versus more established competition in Orlando City FC (second in the East) and first-place FC Dallas (first in the West), which could be distracting the team despite their best efforts to stay focused on the game at hand. Today’s match is the definition of a potential trap game.
Line Ups and Formations
Former Quakes Alan Gordon and Bobby Burling should be in game day 18, and Burling should see the starting XI with USMNT ‘keeper Tim Howard.
Gordon may start, but don’t expect it. Gordon has yet to manage a shot on goal on all season, and should be a sub for Dominique Badji. Expect the “same old” 4-2-3-1 from Pablo Maestroni (what is it with coaches and their refusal to change a broken lineup?) with Howard in goal, Burling and Jared Watts at centerback, flanked by Mikeil Williams and Eric Williams. With Sam Cronin traded, Michael Azira and Dillon Powers should start as defensive mids. Shkelzen Gashi, who had nine goals and four assists last season, has yet to score and could challenge Quakes defenders for a potential goal as an attacking mid, along side Kevin Doyle and Muhammad Saeid, and Badji up top.
I’m betting the Quakes rest some defensive starters in preparation for Orlando and Dallas in the coming weeks, especially given the Rapids poor offense. As such, I expect Lima and Francis to get the starts at fullback, with Flo and Bernardez in a center-back. Ceren and Godoy should start at central midfield, although I wouldn’t be surprised to see Godoy or Ceren out for a rest in favor of Fatai Alashe. Hyka and Hoesen should also start in the midfield, with Wondo and Urena up top. I wouldn’t be surprised if Tommy Thompson gets minutes.
Final Score Predictions
Trap game? Let’s hope not. I’m betting the defense shuts down the weak Rapids offense for the Quakes’ third clean-sheet in a row, while the offense is able to get in rhythm for two goals. The Quakes are second in the league in expected goals differential (as of May 8th), and should start to see more goals than their season total thus far. 2-0 San Jose.