San Jose Earthquakes (6-4-5, fourth in the West)
Head coach: Frank Yallop, third year
Last week: Tied 2-2 at Los Angeles
Last year: 7-14-9, last in West
KEY SAN JOSE PLAYERS
MF Bobby Convey — The all-star midfielder has nearly had a hand in half of the ‘Quakes 20 goals this season with one himself and eight assists. A high-level talent and perhaps San Jose’s only potential game-changer. Look for him on the left against James Riley.
GK Jon Busch — Surely Chicago has to regret letting this guy go, considering the Fire’s calamities in net and the way he has played since replacing Joe Cannon in the starting lineup. Seattle’s goals are going to have to be earned.
D Ike Opara — I forget the exact reasons he didn’t play in the first meeting (injury? suspension?), but he might be the most physically-gifted young centerback in the league. Many think he has a bright future and he also scores goals.
San Jose forward Cornell Glen v. Seattle centerbacks Jeff Parke/Patrick Ianni — The tough and hard-nosed defenders will be able to outpower Glen physically, but will they be able to keep up with him? On a narrow field, we’ll see if he gets in behind them for a breakaway or two.
Sounders FC forward Blaise Nkufo v. San Jose defender Bobby Burling — These might be the two most physically imposing dudes in the league. Expect Nkufo to have a bigger and bigger impact with each passing game, but the 6-foot-5 Burling was Player of the Week quality in the first meeting.
San Jose midfielder Sam Cronin v. Seattle midfielder Osvaldo Alonso — The Quakes got a good one a month ago in a trade with Toronto, but Alonso is a good one too. I’m anxious to see who controls things in the middle. This matchup will be big in all the things that don’t show up in a stat sheet.
Another big game for Seattle, which plays a team above it in the Western Conference standings for the second-straight week. A loss would be brutal to the Sounders’ playoff push and a win would put them right in the mix.
I wonder if we’ll see Alvaro Fernandez in this one. I have a sneaking suspicion we might, maybe a second-half substitution for a Sturgis or Nyassi. Considering Seattle’s form of late, I don’t see a loss. Not sure I see a win either.
Sounders FC 1, San Jose Earthquakes 1
SJ: Glen (Convey) 35′
SEA: Montero (Zakuani) 67′