Here are a few questions we asked Alicia Rodriguez, the editor of the San Jose Earthquakes SBNation page, Center Line Soccer, before Minnesota United’s clash in San Jose tonight.
EPL: An extra time free kick saved a point for you last weekend - what do the earthquakes need to do this weekend to break past an even tougher Loons defense?
CLS: With one game under their belts, the hope will be that this week will show better execution by the Quakes. Their game is based on outworking and out-executing the opponent, and with only one notable addition to the squad in the offseason, the hope was San Jose would hit the ground running and not have a learning curve.
They didn’t really show that against TFC (Toronto), although the ability to grind out a comeback and earn a point after going down 2-0 at home is something to build on.
Put simply, San Jose need to have a better handle on the run of play. If they can do that, they’ll have a much better chance to get a win this week.
EPL: Who’s the secret weapon for your attack?
CLS: The short answer is TBD, I think it’s a secret to Quakes fans at this stage. Andy Rios scored the first game in the rally, and if the Argentine comes good this season, that will help a lot.
Can Danny Hoesen be a consistent scorer? What about Vako? What about Carlos Fierro? Is Chris Wondolowski still the best scorer on the team? I think the hope is that the team will carry the load together and not have to rely on one player, but they certainly wouldn’t turn down a guy going on a tear.
We’ll have to see how it unfolds, because it’s murky to me, too.
EPL: Oswaldo Alanís proved to be quite an impact player against Toronto. What are your expectations of him for the rest of the season? Is he going to be utilized as a free-kick taker?
CLS: I think after Alanis scored that fantastic free kick, he’ll definitely get the chance to take more set pieces, he deserves it. But his debut was a big one: A goal, assist and a solid debut in defense (the Quakes conceded a penalty and a rather fluke goal off a GK rebound).
As he was the only new starter added in the offseason, big things were expected of him, and will continue to be, as his experience and skills as a center back mean he’s tasked with elevating the backline.
Through one game, it’s a positive start.
EPL: Like us, the Quakes had quite a busy offseason, who do you think will have the biggest impact this year?
CLS: I would say on the contrary, it was a remarkably quiet offseason for San Jose. Aside from Alanis, the Quakes just signed Cristian Espinoza permanently, signed a few Homegrowns and a couple draft picks.
The club is all-in on continuity, which seems like a massive gamble considering the Earthquakes didn’t make the playoffs last year.
Can they elevate their level collectively with the same group this year? The jury is out, and we’ll have to see how it unfolds.
EPL: What is your prediction for Saturday’s match?
CLS: I think the Quakes will have plenty of motivation, and I think it’s going to be a one-goal win.
We shall see Saturday! Go Loons!