Game: San Jose Earthquakes vs. Philadelphia Union
Date: Saturday, August 19th
Time: 10:30 p.m. Eastern, 9:30 p.m. Central, 8:30 p.m. Pacific, 3:30 a.m. UTC
Venue: Avaya Stadium (San Jose, California)
Referees: REF: TED UNKEL AR1: Mike Rottersman AR2: Jeffrey Hosking 4TH: Younes Marrakchi VAR: Kevin Stott
Television: The Comcast Network
Streaming: MLS Live, NBC Sports Plus
What the Union will look like
Despite last weekend’s 3-0 home loss to the Montreal Impact, Jim Curtin is unlikely to make multiple changes to the starting lineup. With Andre Blake protected to return mid-week against Toronto FC, John McCarthy will get another game in net. Josh Yaro made his second start of the season, but that was only due to a late groin injury that forced Oguchi Onyewu out of the squad. Barring any other injuries, the rest of the first team should remain unchanged when the Union kick off tomorrow.
If this team wants any shot at a playoff berth, they need a result from this one. The odds aren’t in their favor, though: Of the eleven games the Union have played on the road this season, they’ve lost seven and won only once. That doesn’t bode well for Saturday, or for the rest of their season, as six of their remaining ten games will be played away from home.
What the Earthquakes will look like
San Jose also got the pants beaten off them last weekend, falling 3-0 to the Houston Dynamo. Unlike the Union, they did have some excuses, as they were on the road and playing on short rest. Expect the Quakes to send out their preferred 3-5-2, with Florian Jungwirth, Víctor Bernárdez, and recent arrival Francois Affolter lining up in the back. Andres Imperiale, who started alongside Jungwirth and Affolter last week, is suspended for tomorrow’s match.
Chris Wondolowski is a lock to start up top, and either Marco Ureña or Danny Hoesen will complete the forward pair. Look for Anibal Godoy to anchor the midfield, with two of Darwin Cerén, Tommy Thompson, Jackson Yueill, and Simon Dawkins to complete the central trio. Nick Lima and Jahmir Hyka will likely take up their spots on the flanks, though Shea Salinas presents another option out wide.
The Earthquakes only have three more points than the Union with as many games played, but by virtue of playing in the weaker Western Conference (which is still weird) they currently sit in a playoff spot. Though they’ve had a few rough results on the road recently, the Quakes are a force at Avaya Stadium. They’re on a four-game home winning streak, and they’ve only lost once at home all season.
What to expect
San Jose has a pretty deep team and a fantastic home record, and they’re favorites to take all three points tomorrow. For their playoff hopes, a home win like this is crucial. The Union need to start getting points from somewhere, and despite the likelihood of a loss, going home with nothing would nevertheless deal a huge blow to any playoff run. I’ll spring for a 2-0 San Jose victory over a flat Union side that can’t wait for the season to end.