Preview: New York City FC vs San Jose Earthquakes

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by JACK HAZZARD

After an unpredictable yet astonishing victory against Western Conference power Colorado Rapids, NYCFC will head across the country to California to take on the San Jose Earthquakes Friday night.

Recovering from an underwhelming loss against the New York Red Bulls two weekends ago, NYCFC followed up their lackluster performance with an epic display that saw themselves top one of the best clubs in the Western Conference. In last weekend’s match, New York received an exceptional amount of energy and prowess from a squad that most believed would be dilapidated and worn out due to suspensions and the MLS All-Star game.

However, that was not the case. All-Star Andrea Pirlo appeared for New York, facilitating the midfield and setting up many of their attacking plays. In addition, opportunities for Tony Taylor and Diego Martinez weren’t wasted, as both squad players displayed adequate and productive outings.

Overall, New York overtook a successful club, showing how much depth this underrated New York squad actually has. With all suspensions coming to an end, NYCFC will surely feel energized and reborn as they head to San Jose to take on an underwhelming Earthquakes squad, who struggle to win.

Can NYCFC pick up form heading into the end of the season?


Match Information

Friday, August 5th at Avaya Stadium, 10pm ET Kickoff

Watch: Unimas

Listen: 660 WFAN, 1280 WADO

Stream: nycfc.com/radio

Referee: Ricardo Salazar

2016 MLS Records:

NYCFC: 36 points (10 wins, 6 draws, 7 losses)

San Jose: 27 points (6 wins, 9 draws, 6 losses)

Projected Lineups:

NYCFC: Josh Saunders; R.J Allen, Frederic Brillant, Maxime Chanot, Ronald Matarrita; Andrea Pirlo, Andoni Iraola, Frank Lampard; Jack Harrison, David Villa, Thomas McNamara

San Jose Earthquakes: David Bingham; Cordell Cato, Marvell Wynne, Victor Bernardez, Jordan Stewart; Darwin Ceren, Anibal Godoy, Fatai Alashe, Simon Dawkins; Chris Wondolowski, Quincy Amarikwa


The NYCFC Attack v the Earthquakes’ Defense

Jack Harrison, David Villa, and Thomas McNamara vs. Cordell Cato, Marvell Wynne, Victor Bernardez, and Jordan Stewart (and David Bingham)

NYCFC will finally return to their regular attack as star captain David Villa comes back to the lineup following his one-game suspension due to yellow card accumulation. As of late, the combination of Harrison, Villa, and McNamara could arguably be one of the best attacks in the league as they continue to score goals week in and week out for their side. However, this only happens on an inconsistent basis. Some matches NYCFC will score five goals, much like their game against the Rapids. On other nights, they will struggle to find the back of the net like their more recent losses to both the New York Red Bulls and Sporting KC. New York’s inconsistency on offense may be a major issue this weekend as they take on a strong and consistent San Jose backline. Although San Jose’s offense has struggled over the season, their defense has figuratively been a brick wall. In their last six matches, the Earthquakes have yet to be scored on more than twice. The strong wall of Bernardez and Wynne represent a powerful backline that is difficult to penetrate. If NYCFC hopes to grab the win, they will have to use cunning and savvy dribbling and passing to get around San Jose.

Advantage: Even


The Earthquakes’ front line v the NYCFC back line

Chris Wondolowski, Quincy Amarikwa vs. R.J Allen, Frederic Brillant, Maxime Chanot, and Ronald Matarrita (and Josh Saunders)

NYCFC’s defense will be in full force as everyone is expected to make a return this weekend. Both R.J. Allen and Ethan White will come back following their suspensions as well as left back Ronald Matarrita, who is questionable to start following a lingering injury. With most of their defense returning for selection, head coach Patrick Vieira will struggle to decide who to start. After displaying a productive debut last weekend, it is hinted that new defender Maxime Chanot could make his first start next to fellow European Frederic Brillant. R.J. Allen most likely will start on the right and if Matarrita is healthy, he will start on the left. Although having a full stocked defense is beneficial, it doesn’t mean Friday night’s match against San Jose will be an easy task. Earthquakes’ forwards Chris Wondolowski and Quincy Amarikwa are two savvy technical attackers who can burn defenses at the most unexpected time. If NYCFC hopes to keep San Jose’s strikers in check, they will need to apply constant focus and pressure to limit the two forwards’ touches on the ball.

Advantage: Even


Midfielders

Andrea Pirlo, Andoni Iraola, Frank Lampard vs. Darwin Ceren, Anibal Godoy, Fatai Alashe, Simon Dawkins

In the closing days of the MLS transfer window, San Jose elected to trade Argentinian attacking midfielder Matis Perez Garcia for Orlando City’s Darwin Ceren. This trade provided San Jose with much-needed defense within the midfield. However, it left the center of the field without a prime attacking target that Garcia filled. Most likely, Ceren will make his debut in front of San Jose’s midfield, but it won’t be an enjoyable one. With San Jose struggling to find a core group of midfielders, NYCFC veterans Pirlo, Lampard, and Iraola will look to exploit a newly formed Earthquakes midfield and take advantage of it at any moment. In addition, with Frank Lampard coming off of a hat-trick last appearance, it should be expected that he brings more to Avaya Stadium.

Advantage: NYCFC


The Coaches

Patrick Vieira vs. Dominic Kinnear

Both Patrick Vieira and Dominic Kinnear are respected coaches within the league. Vieira gained his respect from many years playing in Europe and Kinnear earned his plaudits from his time as the head coach of the Houston Dynamo. However, as of late, Kinnear hasn’t done that much. Since joining the San Jose Earthquakes in 2015, Kinnear as done little to nothing to reshape the organization, resulting in missing out on the playoffs in 2015 as well as potentially missing out on the postseason again this season. On the other hand, Vieira has overachieved with his NYCFC squad, constantly reshaping and reorganizing the team until they found success. Though history lies in Kinnear’s favor, form is with Vieira. Overall, the Frenchman has been a far better manager than Kinnear this season.

Advantage: NYCFC


Intangibles

The San Jose Earthquakes are an average side at home whereas NYCFC is decent away, resulting in a stalemate going into Friday’s match. Having home field advantage always benefits a club, but because of NYCFC’s veterans on the field, the crowd may do little impact. The heat in California may give San Jose a slight advantage, however, shouldn’t decide the game majorly.

Advantage: Even


Prediction

Friday night’s match should be an exciting spectacle. With NYCFC regaining all of their suspended stars as well as Ceren set to make his San Jose debut, MLS fans should prepare for a decent match. After a thrilling victory against Colorado, New York should head into the match with full confidence. However, it may not be enough as San Jose’s defense will be a massive wall for NYCFC’s offense to climb. In conclusion, New York will narrowly scrape together a 2-1 win, scoring two early goals followed by a late strike from the one and only Wondolowski.