Match previews / Union

Match preview: Philadelphia Union vs. San Jose Earthquakes

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Who: Philadelphia Union (6th in the East, 4 points, 1-1-0) vs. San Jose Earthquakes (12th in the West, 1 point, 0-1-1)
What: 2022 regular season game
Where: Subaru Park, Chester, PA
When: Saturday, March 12, 7:38PM
Watch: PHL17, NBC Sports Bay Area Plus, MLS Live on ESPN+
Whistle: Victor Rivas; Matthew Nelson, Jeffrey Greeson; Marcos DeOliveira; Chico Grajeda, Peter Balciunas

A quick look in the record books suggests that this weekend’s meeting between the Union and San Jose Earthquakes should be evenly contested.

With an all-time record between the two teams of 4-4-4, and three of the last five games ending in draws, even is the word. However, digging a little deeper reveals a major caveat: the last time the Quakes beat the Union was in the Hackworth Era, a 1-0 win in Santa Clara University’s 10,525 seat Buck Shaw Stadium (pictured in the feature image for this piece).

The last time the Quakes won in Chester, Piotr Nowak was in charge.

Scouting report: San Jose Earthquakes

This could have been a story about Jamiro Monteiro’s return to Philly.

The midfielder’s time here ended later than he apparently would have liked, setting up a juicy narrative for this weekend’s meeting. But Monteiro got a red card early in San Jose’s game against Columbus so he will not be joining the team on Saturday. Who steps in to fill his shoes is a tough question for San Jose head coach Matias Almeyda, as three more midfielders are expected to miss the game due to injury. Further complicating things, Brazilian defender Nathan remains unavailable after the injury he sustained against the Red Bulls.

Between missing a key part of the back line and a thin midfield, it seems unlikely that Almeyda will field the 3-4-3 he started the season with. Since this is only the third game of the campaign, it’s hard to say what to expect as a backup formation. Based on player substitutions in the first two games, a 4-3-3 seems to best fit.

But even change is not without its issues – unsurprisingly in the midfield. Ján Greguš, Eric Remedi, and Designated Player Eduardo López all play primarily as central midfielders. Now this could lead Almeyda to start a player that hasn’t gotten as much playing time this season, but if it doesn’t expect a very narrow heat map from San Jose as all three of their midfielders drift towards their natural position.

  • Injury report: Shea Salinas (M, right knee), George Asomani (M, left hip), Jack Skahan (M, right knee), Nathan (D, right knee)
  • Suspended: Jamiro Monteiro (red carded vs. Columbus)
Scouting report: Philadelphia Union

Meanwhile in Unionland, the only missing player will be Julián Carranza, after the Argentine got booked for two yellows against Montreal. However, head coach Jim Curtin has built a lineup without said Designated Player before and will be called upon do it again. Perhaps his other DP forward, Mikael Uhre, is ready for prime time.

Early reports suggest a breaking-in period for the recently-arrived signing, but only time will tell.

Whether it’s Uhre or Burke lining up next to Santos, the rest of the team sheet should be fairly easy to predict. The only real question is Harriel or Mbaizo at right back, and there’s a case to be made for either. Harriel did get the start against Montreal, and Mbaizo didn’t exactly cover himself in glory in his short shift subbing for Gazdag. However if San Jose’s improvised midfield does get pinched, the width Mbaizo provides on attack could create a lot of opportunities.

  • Injury report: None
  • Suspended: Julián Carranza (red carded vs. Montreal)
Key matchup: Santos and Burke/Uhre vs. Calvo and Yueill

The Union offense could use a jump start, and the San Jose defense could be a prime place to get it. Not only have they allowed six goals after just two games, they allowed a whopping 54 in 2021 (tied for 4th Most in MLS). Whoever’s up top for the Union could get their proverbial ball rolling this season by taking advantage, and hopefully gain momentum that keeps it rolling through the rest of the year.

Player to watch: José Martínez

Of course when isn’t he the player to watch? But this game actually sets up really well for El Brujo’s particular skills. Causing chaos for an already destabilized San Jose midfield would be an obvious specialty, but with the way the Quakes are letting in goals, might he finally score on one of his “but why didn’t he pass” shots?

Prediction: Philadelphia 2 – 0 San Jose

The Union defense should be more that equal to the Quakes’ attack, especially as the visitors should have a hard time controlling the game due to the turmoil behind them. But even if San Jose does sneak in a goal, last season’s Union could win this game.

And this isn’t last season’s Union.

6 Comments

  1. Andy Muenz says:

    I’m going 3-0. San Jose isn’t that good and it’s the type of home game the Union frequently win by that score.

  2. Evildunk99 says:

    Is SJ going to stick with their man-marking defensive scheme with the injuries they have? If so, our pressing, high energy mid-field could dominate and lay down a thumping if SJ backup players can’t keep up or get winded in the blustery conditions. I would also like to see some squad rotation given the match preview. I am leaning with 3-0 or 4-0 prediction. One run-of play goal for Santos/Uhre/Gazdag, one set piece goal, and one cherry on top by a youngster like Sullivan/Aaronson.

  3. Old Soccer Coach says:

    Bringing a fresh, pace attacker off the bench after the other teams man-marking center backs have been worn down for 60 minutes should increase expectations for the sub to score goals.
    .
    Couple that with the state of his conditioning and I would expect Uhre to come off the bench, probably for Santos. (We have no real read on how effective the Dane is as the target striker receiving the ball and possessing it while the offense transitions forward.
    .
    My own read of Harriel and Mbaizo is that Harriel is mentally more flexible, so the unorthodox nature of San Jose’s play favors him in front of Mbaizo.

  4. Great article! Thanks!

    Carranza being out is probably good, as he has been invisible. Uhre… I hope he starts, as I have him on my mlssoccer fantasy team now! He looked really sharp in his few minutes in the last match, and with a week of training under his belt, this could be the moment.

    It would be utterly disappointing to lose this game against a weak team, at home. Hopefully there will be snow on the pitch!

    When can we get Freddy Adu back?

    DOOP!!!!

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Not sure how invisible Carranza has been given that he did do much of the work to setup Gazdag for the winning goal last week.

  5. Sitting here in the 65th minute, Union up 2-0, should be at least 4-0. I’m already so sick and tired of Santos and Burke. Santos can’t hit the broad side of a barn from 2 meters away…he’d definitely put it over or wide. And both of them complete far too many passes to defenders instead of teammates. I could care less about how many chances you’re able to create with your speed if you can’t do anything with the chances. Long for the day when Uhre and Carranza make Santos and Burke a fading memory. We’ll see.

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