Though San Jose is limping into Sunday’s match against the Red Bulls, New York recognizes they are still a dangerous side so long as Chris Wondolowski is leading them up top.
“You don’t know obviously what’s going to happen with Wondo,” Red Bulls captain Thierry Henry explained. “With Wondolowski, it’s not even half a chance; sometimes it seems like he doesn’t have one and he puts the ball in the back if the net.”
The last time these two teams met, Wondolowski collected one of his MLS record tying 27 goals last season in a contentious 2-2 draw.
“He has a habit of scoring against us,” Henry noted. “Hopefully he won’t do that.”
Without their playmaking midfielder Juninho, the Red Bulls will be looking to employ a compact style in order to steal points on the road against a tough but wounded San Jose side. The questionable status of the speedy Mike Fucito will come as welcome news to a road weary backline.
With a proper game plan in place and a little bit of awareness, head coach Mike Petke feels New York can contain the threatening striker and his side.
“Well it’s not like we change our formation or system around for one player but obviously he is one of the most lethal goals scorers in the last three or four years,” Petke acknowledged. “It’s a situation you can never keep your eye off if him. He’ll be quiet for 88 minutes and then he will score two goals to beat you 2-1. That’s his m.o.; it’s always been.
“It’s amazing to watch footage on him; every team knows that but you watch these games and you watch him slip behind defenders without defenders knowing and he winds up at the end of the ball; how do you prepare for that?”
“I don’t know loads about San Jose,” Red Bulls midfielder Tim Cahill said, “except for the fact they are a good football team that works hard and has a finisher up front.”
Cahill will be a major part of the midfield logjam that New York hopes stymies the Earthquakes attack.
“I think with (Jamison) Olave and our field of boys, the way they control and communicate, if you keep Chris quiet hopefully that’s half the battle,” he noted. “We just want to try to get the system together; try and get the strong, compact, disciplined system that was in the first half (against Portland) and keep it running.
“On the discipline side, it’s not going to be the most exciting game because we want to shut up shop and not concede three goals where as the last game we played had everything in it.”
“It’s about constantly having your hands all over him,” Petke said. “Knowing where he is at all times, communicating. If they have that in their head, it will be a better percent chance they do well against him.”