Match #18 Preview: Philadelphia Union At San Jose Earthquakes

SANTA CLARA CA - SEPTEMBER 15: Chris Wondolowski #8 of the San Jose Earthquakes scores the winning goal just past the reach of keeper Brad Knighton #18 of the Philadelphia Union on September 15 2010 at Buck Shaw Stadium in Santa Clara California. The Earthquakes won 1-0. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

Setting: Saturday, July 9 at Buck Shaw Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.; kickoff scheduled for 10:36:30 PM Eastern

Broadcast Information: Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia (J.P. Dellacamera, Taylor Twellman, Bob Rigby), with coverage beginning at 10:00 PM Eastern with a pre-game show / Comcast SportsNet Bay Area and Business Radio 1220 KDOW-AM (Jim Kozimor, John Shrader, Dan Dibley), La Kaliente 1370 KZSF-AM (Carlos Cesar Rivera) in San Jose / MLS Direct Kick, MatchDay Live (CSN Bay Area feed)

San Jose's Record: 5-6-6, seventh in West

San Jose's Last Match: L, 2-0 at Chivas USA

Philadelphia vs. San Jose This Season: 1-0-0 (San Jose 0 @ Philadelphia 1 on April 30)

For the San Jose Perspective, Visit Quake, Rattle and Goal

A week after Carlos Ruiz's late equalizer in D.C. salvaged a crucial road point for the Philadelphia Union, the club's three-match road trip rolls along with a cross-country visit to Chris Wondolowski and the San Jose Earthquakes. The Union will enter tomorrow's match out of the top spot in the East for what seems like the first time in forever, although it's important to note that the New York Red Bulls, who are currently one point up on the Union for first, have played two more matches. Even after tomorrow's match, the Union will still have two matches in hand, as the Red Bulls are hosting DC United. If the Union are able to take care of business and leave Buck Shaw Stadium with a result, it will bring them that much closer to not having to rely on their matches in hand to take the regular season conference title.

Of course, for Philadelphia, the big question is what the starting back line will look like thanks to the sudden trade of left-back Jordan Harvey, and the late breaking news that Carlos Valdes will miss the match due to illness. Keon Daniel and both of the Farfan twins have seen time in place of Harvey this season, and it was Michael Farfan who got the start in that role in Portland when Harvey was unavailable due to a red card suspension. It seems likely that two of those three will get the start. Or... maybe Juan Diego Gonzalez will finally come into the picture. All of a sudden, what was seen as a strength of Philadelphia's some 36 hours ago has become a point of major concern. Another question is how well Philadelphia's offense will run, and more importantly, finish, without Carlos Ruiz, who Kerith Gabriel of the Daily News reports did not make the trip to California.

The Earthquakes have picked up their game quite a bit since the Union saw them last at PPL Park some two and a half months ago, recording a very solid four wins, three losses and four draws in the interim. They still appear to be a middling side, though, dropping a 2-0 result in Carson to Chivas USA on Wednesday. A tough loss combined with short rest might provide the Union with both mental and physical advantages in a place where a point or three appears to be available for the taking; San Jose has only taken full points in three of its nine home MLS matches to this point.

Projected starters, up-to-date injury reports and assorted match notes after the jump...

Likely starters:

Philadelphia: Mondragon (C); G. Farfan, Gonzalez, Califf, Williams; Mapp, Nakazawa, Carroll, Daniel; Mwanga, Le Toux

San Jose: Busch; Corrales, Burling, Hernandez, Ward; Johnson, Stephenson, Ring, Gjertson; Dawkins, Wondolowski

Injury updates:

For Philadelphia, as noted earlier, Carlos Ruiz did not make the trip. Gabriel also reports that Veljko Paunovic didn't make the trip, either, due to a left hip strain. Danny Califf is considered "probable" despite a rib strain.

For San Jose, Philadelphia-native Bobby Convey, Andre Luiz and Ike Opara are out due to a left knee contusion, a "left knee injury" and a "left foot injury", respectively. Center Line Soccer's Robert Jonas reports that Steven Beitashour is out due to injury, as well. Additionally, Steven Lenhart will be unavailable, as he will be serving an automatic one-match disciplinary suspension due to yellow card accumulation.

Of note:

  • Elias Bazakos is listed as tomorrow's match referee. In 13 career MLS matches, Bazakos has called an average of between 26 and 27 fouls per match, handed out an average of between two and three yellow cards per match, given a total of three red cards. He has not called for any penalties.
  • Carlos Valdes will receive an automatic one-match disciplinary suspension like Lenhart is serving if he is given a yellow card in tomorrow's match.
  • In addition to their mid-week loss, the Quakes let a lead slip very late last Saturday to the Red Bulls in a home match at Stanford Stadium. This will be their third match in eight days, a tough stretch that the Union are all too familiar with themselves.
  • You'll recall that a few weeks back, Sebastien Le Toux publicly stated his desire to work with Danny Mwanga up top instead of Ruiz. Well, it appears as though he'll get another shot at that tomorrow. How will he respond?
  • Eight of San Jose's 21 goals conceded came between the 76th and 90th minutes. So if Philadelphia's trailing late into the match, don't turn off the TV prematurely.

The Union look to keep pace with, if not overtake, the New York Red Bulls in the standings while the Earthquakes seek a fresh start as both sides officially begin the second half of their MLS regular season fixtures. Hope you can join us in our gamethread tomorrow night for some late night Union soccer!

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