Match previews

Match preview: Philadelphia Union vs San Jose Earthquakes

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

Who: Philadelphia Union (3rd place, 52 points, 15-9-7) vs. San Jose Earthquakes (7th place, 44 points, 13-13-5)
What: 2019 regular season game
Where: Avaya Stadium, San Jose, CA
When: Wednesday, September 25th, 11pm
Watch: Live Well Network, ESPN+
Whistle: Referee: Baldomero Toledo Assistant Referees: Nick Uranga, Adam Garner. 4th Official: Mark Allatin. VAR: Malik Badawi

The long road-trip that had everyone talking about charter flights is now at its midpoint, with the Philadelphia Union heading out west to face the San Jose Earthquakes tonight. Both sides will be a bit shorthanded tonight, injuries have started to mount for the Union, as the Quakes deal with suspensions to Chris Wondolowski and Cristian Espinoza saw red against Atlanta last weekend. They’ll even be without head coach Matias Almeyda who is also suspended for this match.

It will be interesting to see how both squads deal with missing key players, and who is more rested. Despite the Quakes being at home, they too flew across the country, although had an extra days rest, after playing in Atlanta on Saturday.

Scouting report: San Jose

San Jose have been one of the more interesting sides this season, and much like the Union, nobody expected them to be where they are.

Even without Wondolowski and Espinoza, the Earthquakes are still a dangerous side. In their last 6 matches, they’ve only been shutout twice, one of those coming at league leaders LAFC. The question now for the Quakes tonight is who will create and finish their chances. Espinoza is the team’s creative engine, but he’s out. We all know about Wondolowksi’s scoring ability, but he is also out tonight. So, who’s it gonna be?

Enter Danny Hoesen. The 28 year old Dutchman hasn’t been lighting it up this year, he has 5 goals in MLS play so far. He has been sitting behind Wondo, and now is his chance to shine. To replace Espinoza’s attacking flair, look out for Tommy Thompson, who has been a constant in the San Jose midfield. Jackson Yueill will also look to provide some help in the attack, as the young American has enjoyed a bit of a break out season in 2019.

In the back, the player to watch out for is Nick Lima. The 24 year old American earned a call into Gold Cup camp and has been able to stick around the USMNT. Lima likes to join the attack much like Kai Wagner but also provides defense coverage to prevent the counter attack. Preventing Lima to get the ball out wide will be a key aspect for the Union defense tonight to stop incoming service into the 18.

Injury report:

OUT: None

DOUBTFUL: None

QUESTIONABLE: None

Suspension report: Chris Wondolowski, Cristian Espinoza, Matias Almeyda (manager)
Scouting report: Philadelphia Union

The big question for the Union is how will they look defensively. After getting Mark McKenzie back into full fitness, they lost him for the this match with a hamstring injury. Aurelien Collin seems to be the choice to replace him alongside Elliott, which worked well for the game at D.C. Here’s to hoping the Collin who was at D.C. shows up tonight and not the one we saw in the Union’s loss at Chicago.

Another question looming over this match for the Union is squad rotation. Matt Real and Anthony Fontana were held out of Bethlehem Steel’s last match to rest for this trip, so expect to see them in some capacity, whether it be tonight or on Sunday. After not travelling with the team to New York, Andrew Wooten has made the trip and could be looking at his first start if Kacper Przybylko is rested. Warren Creavalle has shown his ability to be a ball winner, perhaps his slots in to give either Haris Medunjanin or Alejandro Bedoya a rest. One thing for sure, this will not be the same starting XI that was at New York, and it will probably change again on Sunday.

With all of this change, it will be interesting to see how the Union midfield links with the attack. Brenden Aaronson and Fafa Picault have been providing speed on the flanks in recent matches with the switch back to the 4-2-3-1. Can the Union continue to operate in this same formation without Medunjanin or Bedoya, or will Jamiro Monteiro become the engine and deep lying passer for this match? If Andrew Wooten is given the start (I would be surprised if he is), Union fans should watch how he operates with the wingers. Can he be like Przybylko and provide an outlet to link passes while also being a dangerous target in the box? It’s time for Wooten to show why this team went out and got him.

Injury report

OUT: Matt Freese (GK), Sergio Santos (F), Mark McKenzie (D)

QUESTIONABLE:  None

Suspension report: None
Key matchup: The midfields

Can a shuffled Union midfield find the chemistry needed to get the Union attack flowing, or will San Jose’s young midfield be able to dictate play and set up their attackers looking for their chance in the spotlight? This game will be decided in the midfield, and it all depends on who has the longest stamina.

Player to watch: Aurelien Collin

Collin is back in due to injury, so lets see if he can bring in that calming veteran leadership the Union were looking for. He proved he can do it earlier in the year, and with several younger players perhaps seeing the field this week, the Union may need it.

Prediction: Philadelphia 2-1 San Jose

A scrappy game finds 3 goals. This is the game Andrew Wooten shows his value (I hope). He comes off the bench and scores the game winner after Przybylko opens the scoring. (Now that I’ve called this, none of it will happen. Sorry in advance.)

6 Comments

  1. Why the F U C K is this not on tv? This is an embarrassment! Soccer is the top sport in the world and we can’t see the #2 team in the east at an away match.
    So much emotion but no more words fit to print!

  2. And w t f is this blacked out in my area after I just paid espn+? This is total bs.

  3. Thx Osager – you’re the bomb.

  4. Well dean Sean on the scoreline call…ya never had your doubts and neither did we. 😉

    Now, if only I can find the local witch doctor and voodoo priest, we might make the CCL for the first time and finish 2nd for playoff seeding….

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