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May 11, 2013 at 1:52 AM

Sounders FC vs. San Jose Earthquakes, preview and prediction

San Jose Earthquakes LogoSounders FC (2-3-3) vs. San Jose Earthquakes (3-3-5)
Saturday, May 11, 1 p.m., CenturyLink Field, Seattle, Wash.
TV/radio: KONG-TV 6/16, KIRO-FM 97.3 (Ross Fletcher, Kasey Keller)
Spanish TV/radio: Univision Deportes Network, La Gran D 99.3 FM
Referee: Jair Marrufo

KEY EARTHQUAKES PLAYERS

F Chris Wondolowski — It’s always starts with him. Heck, he’s the reigning MLS MVP and last year tied the league’s all-time record for goals in a season. Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid called him an “ever present danger.” And while Wondo’s has five goals so far in 11 games, his three assists (one off the league lead) might be even more impressive. Oh yeah, he also dominates Seattle, with six goals in the head-to-head series.

D Victor Bernardez — The Honduran national is a flat out beast in the back. Listed at 6 foot 2, 190 pounds, and I fear that might be an understatement. His stature certainly makes him a difficult guard on set pieces. Many thought the 30-year-old should’ve won MLS Newcomer of the Year in 2012, though he was named to the MLS Best XI. Can contribute in multiple ways, as he notched a couple goals and an assist last season.

F Adam Jahn — It’s possible he could go back to the bench with Alan Gordon back from his three-game suspension for the use of a gay slur, but I think that’d be harsh on the rookie. He started the past two games, scored in each, and has four goals overall this season. Not bad for a guy not even invited to the combine, eh? Who could’ve seen this production from a guy presumably at the bottom of a position group that includes Wondolowski, Gordon, Steven Lenhart, Mike Fucito and Marcus Tracy to start the year.

KEY MATCHUPS

Mauro Rosales vs. Justin Morrow — Neither of these guys started Wednesday, which makes me think they’ll both be in the starting lineup Saturday. Rosales is getting back into his vintage form for the Sounders, and he’s got the look he had when recording 13 assists the past two seasons. Morrow is one of the best left backs in the league, and has even been getting some attention at the national team level after a breakout 2012.

Osvaldo Alonso vs. Sam Cronin — These are two engine-room type of central midfielders. Cronin, the pick right after Steve Zakuani in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft, had a dramatic game-tying goal over the weekend against Montreal. He’s the only other field player besides Wondo to have played all 990 minutes this season for the ‘Quakes. Alonso is a midfield terrier we know, but will he be able to impact the game if the Earthquakes route to goal is by kicking if over him?

Injuries/suspensions vs. injuries/suspensions — Both teams have personnel issues coming into this one, not to mention the short rest. San Jose midfielder Marvin Chavez was recently suspended by the Disciplinary Committee, so he’s out. Seattle’s suspension is to a back-up goalkeeper, but guys like Obafemi Martins, Steve Zakuani and Shalrie Joseph remain questionable. Gordon is back from suspension for the visitors, and Lamar Neagle and DeAndre Yedlin are back from the hosts. How will that all play out?

PREDICTION

The ‘Quakes have won four straight in the series, including a three-game sweep in 2012. That one-sided nature of the rivalry continued when Wondo scored the lone goal in a 1-0 win at Buck Shaw earlier this year.

The Sounders are a different team now, though, coming off a 2-0-2 stretch with most of that coming on the road. Nemesis Steven Lenhart also isn’t expected to be available for San Jose, which could be a big factor on the field as these games always tend to get physical and contentious.

My gut was completely wrong going into the Kansas City game, but here’s what the guy says this time.

Sounders FC 1, San Jose Earthquakes 0

SEA — Osvaldo Alonso (pk) 75′

*     *     *

What do you think? How do you see this one playing out?

COMMENTS

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