tBG) San Jose will be without Sanna Nyassi, Anibal Godoy, Cordell Cato, and Marc Pelosi due to international duty. What effect will this have on the Quakes, and who do you see stepping in their place?
CLS) One of the ongoing struggles for San Jose, stretching back to the post-Supporters Shield-winning side of 2012, has been to build a solid midfield capable of controlling games. Yallop and Watson's inability to do this may well have been a factor in their departures as head coaches. This year new head coach Dominic Kinnear, after initially struggling, finally seems to have solved the puzzle. So whereas this culling of vital midfielders for international duties is likely infuriating for many fans, I believe the team will approach the task of shuffling players with the newfound confidence they currently enjoy. This will certainly provide a test to see if Kinnear really has solved the midfield puzzle; and whether he's solved it with team unity of purpose as opposed to individual player skills. I could see Alashe coming in to take Pelosi's central position. The big question will be if Garcia has 90 minutes in him coming back from a hamstring strain, if so I could see him taking Godoy's place, although he might share a shift with Pierrazi. Barrera will likely be in for Cato.
tBG) San Jose has been on a tear lately, winning their last four. Prior to that though they had lost five of six. Which San Jose will show up on Saturday and why?
CLS) Given that the team, like most MLS teams, have had to contend with ever-changing starting line-ups due to injury, suspension and international call-ups the recent winning streak team is the one that will show up. Kinnear has somehow got this group of players to believe in themselves, to have a higher level of confidence on the ball. Exactly how he has achieved this is a mystery and one of the reasons he's paid the (relatively) big bucks.
tBG) Since the Union and Quakes face each other so infrequently, can you give the readers here a sense of what the soccer culture is like in San Jose?
CLS) Professional soccer in San Jose stretches back to 1974 and has included some great players in its history - people still talk about that George Best goal, as well they should.
But the passion of the fans is a large factor. From the often unfairly berated Ultras to the families in the stands people care about soccer here and they stand for their team. San Jose has a large Hispanic and European population so soccer is something that stretches back generations, it's part of people's cultures.The Earthquakes played many seasons at tiny antiquated Buckshaw Stadium, rented from the University of Santa Clara, so the fact that they now have their own state-of-the-art Avaya Stadium is a source of great pride for team and fan alike. The Quakes are working hard to make Avaya a scary place for visiting teams to come play in, and I mean that in the best possible sense of the word.
Predicted lineup: David Bingham; Marvell Wynne, Victor Bernardez, Clarence Goodson, Shaun Francis; Leandro Barrera, Fatai Alashe, Matias Perez Garcia, Shea Salinas; Chris Wondolowski, Quincy Amarikwa
Predicted score: I think it will be a close game but the Quakes will edge it 2-1