One of the league's more inconsistent teams, the San Jose Earthquakes still have many questions to answer heading into their encounter with the Red Bulls on Friday. After earning a win against a Vancouver side that started the season hot, the Quakes' record stands at 3-3 with a goal difference of zero.
Things are looking a little more grim for the Quakes up top too. In last week's clash with Vancouver, Chris Wondolowski sustained an injury that saw him get subbed out in the 64th minute. 20 minutes later, Adam Jahn was given a straight red for an altercation Pedro Morales. With Steve Lenhart and Mark Sherrod still injured, San Jose's front line looks a little thin. The return of designated player Innocent Emeghara should help alleviate this, as he will most likely start in Jahn's stead.
Injuries and suspensions aside, the Earthquakes have been solid defensively and this particularly showed against the Whitecaps. The Quakes held Vancouver to five shots total, none of them on target. With Clarence Goodson and former Red Bull, Marvell Wynne being named to the Team of the Week, defending is easily this team's strong suit.
The Red Bulls are coming into the match after earning a solid point against bitter rivals D.C. United last week. In a clash of arguably the two best teams in the Eastern Conference, the match lived up to it's billing with a final score of 2-2. With Lloyd Sam netting a late equalizer, the Englishman has yet to slow down and will look to keep his fast start going on Friday.
RBNY might even have a full squad on hand, too. Roy Miller and Ronald Zubar have not played since the season opener due to injury but have resumed full training with the squad this week. "We're hopeful that they're available for Friday," said Jesse Marsch on Thursday.
Dominic Kinnear's men played a gritty yet effective match last week, and with so many players missing in the attack, this match could see more of the same. This could turn out well for New York, as the Quakes will be more than content to counter and allow the Red Bulls possession of the ball.
Another thing to look out for could be the home field advantage. The Red Bulls have won 10 out of their last 12 home matches, whereas San Jose has lost 5 games out of 6 when on the road.
Who To Watch
RBNY: Lloyd Sam. Perhaps the most important player on this squad second to Bradley Wright-Phillips, Lloyd Sam has bagged 3 goals in 4 games. If there's to be a goal from New York, look for him to be involved.
SJ: Innocent Emeghara. Coming off of a one match suspension, Innocent is rejoining the squad and looks set to finally start as a striker. Having played on the left, the absence of Adam Jahn gives Innocent the opportunity to play in his natural position. This could play in his favor, as he'll have to shoulder a good portion of the creative responsibilities if Wondolowski misses the match because of either his call up or injury.
Last Time They Met
July 19, 2014. Red Bulls 1 - 1 Earthquakes. San Jose managed to snatch a point at Red Bull Arena, as Steve Lenhart's late goal cancelled out Bradley Wright-Phillips' spot kick.
16-10-9, Earthquakes. The Quakes have an advantage historically and have kept the Red Bulls winless in their last four encounters. Keep in mind that three of those games ended in draws.
RBNY (4-2-3-1): Luis Robles; Chris Duvall, Matt Miazga, Damien Perinelle, Kemar Lawrence; Felipe Martins, Dax McCarty; Sal Zizzo, Sacha Kljestan, Lloyd Sam; Bradley Wright-Phillips
SJ (4-3-3): David Bingham; Marvell Wynne, Victor Benardez, Clarence Goodson, Cordell Cato; J.J. Koval, Fatai Alashe, Matias Perez-Garcia; Sanna Nyassi, Innocent Emeghara, Shea Salinas