On Wednesday Night the Philadelphia Union continue their away stretch by traveling across the country to take on the San Jose Earthquakes. San Jose will be looking to put a stop to their winless run that began in late August, while the Union are looking to bounce back from their 2-0 defeat to New York Red Bulls.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
San Jose currently sit seventh in the Western Conference and will be looking to get three points to sure-up their playoff status. However, no matter what comes of this term they will be looking back at it in awe, as they are a year removed from finishing 12th in the Western Conference (last in the league with 21 points).
There were a few changes in the off-season, but the biggest was Matías Almeyda taking over as manager for the Earthquakes. He shifted San Jose from a side that sat back, to a side that pushed for the first goal. A fact that seems quite straightforward when you have Major League Soccer’s all-time top goal-scorer, Chris Wondolowski (158). Unfortunately for the Earthquakes, Wondolowski is unavailable for them against the Union as he received a red card in their last match against Atlanta United FC.
Additionally, the side has seen several other players improving their overall performances in matches. In particular, Jackson Yueill and his midfield partner Judson, who have been dominating their counterparts in nearly every match they have played together. Their ability to win 50-50s and find the final ball has ensured that San Jose can play the attacking style that Almeyda prefers. A great example of this was on display in the match against Orlando City SC, where Magnus Eriksson received a pass from Yueill that went through two City players. Eriksson then took it on the turn, moved forward and put a strike between the legs of Brian Rowe for an early goal.
Lastly, is their defending. While the side definitely seems to dominate the early proceedings, they also seem to tire as their matches progress. This issue is addressed by Almeyda’s more defensive second half setups. The only problem is that San Jose’s midfield duo still stays high up the pitch in these situations, which gives more opportunities to opposing sides against one of the less accomplished goalies in the league, Daniel Vega. This is generally taken advantage of, and is something that the Union players will also hope to do.
WHAT TO DO
Below are five ways that the Union can ensure they get all three points against San Jose:
- Keep San Jose from scoring first. This San Jose side has turned a page from last season. But they still seem weak minded. If they don’t score first they will eventually let the Union into the match, and then let the Union take control of it once they score.
- Win the midfield battle. San Jose has a solid midfield trio of Eriksson, Judson and Yueill that can run with the best of Major League Soccer. However, when they get caught in possession they are generally too far up the pitch, and in these situations the Union will have the ability to split them, and their back-line, with through balls.
- Force Daniel Vega into difficult saves. The goalkeeper for the Earthquakes is a solid shot stopper, but when teams keep the shots away from him they tend to score – he’s simply not going to make the outrageous saves that Union fans have come to expect from the likes of Andre Blake.
- When attacking, go direct. They need to be able to play direct. Whether it’s over the top or via through balls, the Earthquakes don’t seem to be able to handle these sort of attacks – playing down the wings won’t be as successful as San Jose deploys two quality wing-backs.
- Rely on Kacper Przybylko. Play through him. As a mobile big-man he has the ability to play well against the best of center-back pairings – against a side that seems to struggle against bigger strikers, doing so will only open up the attack even more.
— OptaJack⚽️ (@OptaJack) September 22, 2019
WHAT WILL HAPPEN
Predictions for the match:
Predicted Philadelphia Union Starting Eleven: (4-2-3-1) – Blake; Gaddis, Elliot, McKenzie, Wagner; Bedoya, Medunjanin; Picault, Fabian, Aaronson; Przybylko.
Predicted San Jose Starting Eleven: (4-2-3-1) – Vega; Thompson, Kashia, Jungwirth, Lima; Yueill, Judson; Fierro, Eriksson, Qazaishvili; Hoesen
The Predicted Match Result: San Jose Earthquakes 1-1 Philadelphia Union
- San Jose scores through Eriksson.
- Philadelphia Union score a late equalizer through Aaronson.