Match Preview: New York Red Bulls vs. San Jose Earthquakes

It’s a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Semifinal Series when the New York Red Bulls meet the San Jose Earthquakes. When the teams last met in November, the Quakes overturned a home defeat with a 3-1 win at Red Bull Arena to advance. The Red Bulls are coming off a 1-0 loss at Philadelphia last weekend, while San Jose played to a 1-1 draw at home with Toronto FC.

REFEREE: Chris Penso. SAR (bench): Darren Clark; JAR (opposite): Bill Dittmar; 4th: Jose Carlos Rivero MLS Career: First game.

INJURY REPORT: NEW YORK RED BULLS – OUT: DF Chris Albright (knee surgery recovery); QUESTIONABLE: GK Greg Sutton (concussion); FW Thierry Henry (bilateral Achilles tendinosis) … SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES – OUT: MF Andre Luiz (L knee injury); DOUBTFUL: DF Tim Ward (R hamstring strain); QUESTIONABLE: FW Steven Lenhart (R knee arthroscopy); PROBABLE: FW Scott Sealy (R shoulder sprain); FW Ellis McLoughlin (back strain)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: SJ: Omar Jasseh (The Gambia)

SUSPENDED: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD

ALL-TIME (30 meetings): Red Bulls 9 wins (0 shootout), 41 goals … Earthquakes 15 wins (2 shootout), 47 goals … Ties 6

AT NEW YORK (15 meetings): Red Bulls 7 wins (0 shootout), 27 goals … Earthquakes 4 wins (0 shootout), 15 goals … Ties 4

RETURN MATCH: 7/2: San Jose Earthquakes vs. New York Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m. PT (ESPN2)

LAST YEAR (MLS):

5/8: SJ 4, NY 0 (Johnson 44; Gjertsen 54; Wondolowski 77; Burling 85)

8/28: NY 2, SJ 0 (Richards 45; Henry 63)

  • The teams met in a remarkable conference semifinal series a year ago. The Red Bulls won the first leg, 1-0 in Santa Clara, but the Quakes overturned that result with a 3-1 win at Red Bull Arena to advance.
  • The last time a road team won in the league series came all the way back on May 7, 2005, a 1-0 San Jose victory at Giants Stadium.
  • New York has not won at San Jose since a 2-0 win Oct. 5, 2003.
  • Coaches record: Hans Backe vs. SJ: P2 W1 L1 D0 … Frank Yallop v NY: P16 W5 L6 D5

NEW YORK RED BULLS

The New York Red Bulls saw their winless run reach three games, falling 1-0 to Philadelphia Union on Saturday evening at PPL Park. The Red Bulls have 5 points from 4 games, sitting in a four-way tie for third place in the Eastern Conference.

LAST MATCH

  • The game's lone goal came in the 68th minute. New York defender Tim Ream gave the ball directly to Union striker Danny Mwanga in his own half, and Mwanga slid the ball to substitute Roger Torres, who had come on barely a minute before. Torres fired a low shot past Red Bulls ’keeper Bouna Coundoul from inside the area.
  • Union goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon was called upon to make just one save, but he was twice saved by the woodwork on first-half efforts from Red Bulls striker Juan Agudelo.
  • Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe made one change to the team that played to a 1-1 draw with the Houston Dynamo at Red Bull Arena. Dwayne De Rosario made his first Red Bulls start, in place of Mehdi Ballouchy.
  • NEW YORK RED BULLS (4-1-3-2): Bouna Coundoul - Jan Gunnar Solli, Rafael Marquez, Tim Ream, Roy Miller - Teemu Tainio - Dane Richards (Luke Rodgers 68), Dwayne De Rosario, Joel Lindpere - Thierry Henry, Juan Agudelo (Mehdi Ballouchy 86),

TEAM NEWS

  • The Red Bulls were again unable to take advantage of numerous opportunities in their 1-0 loss at Philadelphia.
  • After firing 29 total shots (11 on target) but coming away with just a single goal vs. Columbus and Houston,
  • New York had 12 against Union – including two off the woodwork from Juan Agudelo.
  • “One-way traffic, one team on the pitch, (it’s) ridiculous to lose a game like this,” Red Bulls coach Hans Backe said. “This should have been an easy win. …If we had scored the first goal today, which we should have done, then probably we win this game quite easily.”
  • The Red Bulls have had a massive edge in possession over the past two matches, with 65 percent of the ball vs. Philadelphia, and 74 percent the week before vs. Houston.
  • “It’s annoying because you create chances and you have the ball most of the time and you end up losing the game,” said Thierry Henry. “That can’t be an excuse. You play the way you want to play. Even though they were defending, we created enough chances and we had enough possession to try and win the game. We didn’t. They defended well and won the game.”
  • The game in Philadelphia featured the first start in a Red Bulls uniform for Dwayne De Rosario, who made his debut at halftime the week before vs. Houston, a day after his acquisition from Toronto FC.
  • “The way we’re playing out of the back four into the midfield is really rather good, fluid,” Backe said. “We’re forcing them to sit back. I don’t think most teams want to sit back that way, but we’re forcing other teams to really play defense as we dictate the play.”
  • But the Red Bulls have scored just two goals in four games this season – tied for the league-low entering the week, along with the expansion Portland Timbers. Both goals have come from quick counterattacks, long balls from midfield and beyond.
  • “I think we weren’t urgent enough on Saturday,” Agudelo said. “When we slowed things down, they were able to get their guys back and on top of the 18. When that happens, we’re not able to use Dane Richards’ speed, my speed at all. We need to play with more urgency.”
  • Henry has been slowed in training during the week with a nagging injury to his Achilles tendon, leaving him questionable for the San Jose match. Henry missed the March 26 game at Columbus with a hamstring injury.
  • “He has a problem with the Achilles,” Backe said. “It is something that is day by day, week by week with him. It’s a problem, definitely. Last week, he was flying around in training. Tuesday, Thursday trainings, all smiles. And then he looked really, really shot. It’s very hard for him.”

SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES

The San Jose Earthquakes extended their unbeaten streak to three games in a second successive draw, this time a 1-1 result with Toronto FC on Saturday evening at Buck Shaw Stadium. The Quakes have 5 points from 4 games on the season, sitting in a three-way tie for fourth place in the Western Conference.

LAST MATCH

  • The visitors took the lead after 27 minutes. Toronto defender Danleigh Borman saw his cross from the endline blocked, then Sam Cronin tried to clear in front of goalkeeper Jon Busch. But it looped right into the goalmouth where Alan Gordon knocked it home.
  • The Quakes pulled even just 11 minutes later. Simon Dawkins played a nifty one-two with Chris Wondolowski at the top of the box before racing into the area and jabbing a shot past TFC ‘keeper Stefan Frei.
  • Earthquakes boss Frank Yallop made two changes to the team that reached a 2-2 draw against Seattle Sounders FC. Ike Opara came into the back four for Chris Leitch and Khari Stephenson started in midfield for Joey Gjertsen.
  • SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (4-1-4-1): Jon Busch – Jason Hernandez, Brandon McDonald, Ike Opara, Ramiro Corrales (Joey Gjertsen 85) - Sam Cronin - Bobby Convey, Khari Stephenson (Matt Luzunaris 80), Simon Dawkins, Ryan Johnson - Chris Wondolowski

TEAM NEWS

  • The Earthquakes are now winless in three games at Buck Shaw Stadium, forced to come back for draws against both Seattle and Toronto FC. The Quakes had a season-high 16 attempts at goal vs. Toronto, with seven on target.
  • "I don't think you can call it unlucky anymore," goalkeeper Jon Busch said. "Somebody has got to step up and finish."
  • Simon Dawkins scored for the second time in as many weeks, scoring the equalizer. "These chances are good enough -- especially tonight," he said.
  • In winning the MLS Golden Boot in 2010, Chris Wondolowski had just one assist in 2,308 minutes of play. Playing a lone striker role vs. Toronto, he contributed his first this season in the San Jose goal.
  • “I think it helps me get closer to the goal, [from] which I can make runs, and it gives us a good midfield,” Wondolowski said. “It gets me around a lot more chances – rebounds, deflections, stuff like that. I think I can do well on that.”
  • Ryan Johnson moved from the striker role to the left wing, with Bobby Convey shifting sides to the right. Khari Stephenson and Dawkins were paired in the attacking central midfield spots from the start for the first time.
  • “Simon’s going to join more, he’s a forward [in the past],” Yallop said. “I feel that ... Ryan is an attacking player that’s going to help the workload if Wondo’s out there. It’s just the setup for how we’re going to kick the game off.”
  • There was also a change in the back as Ike Opara started his first game since July 31 of last year after suffering a knee injury. Opara scored three goals in his rookie season in 2010, tied for second-most on the Quakes, behind Wondolowski’s Golden Boot-winning total of 18. Jason Hernandez shifted from central defense to right back with Chris Leitch going to the bench.
  • “I feel the squad is capable of doing anything that I want to do, and I think that’s the beauty of having a good squad,” Yallop said. “It’s a deep team, and we don’t miss a beat if we move people around.”