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Final

Quakes hoping West Brom friendly can kick-start offense

San Jose host West Brom

Photo Credit: 
Courtesy of San Jose Earthquakes

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — It won’t count for points, but the San Jose Earthquakes’ friendly date on Tuesday against Premier League visitors West Bromwich Albion (10 pm ET, live audio at sjearthquakes.com) could still have an effect on the hosts’ placement in the MLS standings.

The Quakes come into their summer exhibition scuffling offensively. A month ago, San Jose led the league in terms of goals per match, but after suffering four shutouts in their last five games, that seems like another team altogether.

So as San Jose line up against West Brom, there’s a chance for the Quakes to create some much-needed momentum and jump-start the second half of their MLS season, which opened Saturday with a scoreless tie against Philadelphia.

Coming as it does during San Jose’s busiest month of the season, coach Frank Yallop is expected to spread his playing time fairly evenly, with most players getting roughly a half’s worth of work. Some of the most heavily used Quakes could make an early exit or a late appearance, while guys such as newly signed midfielder Rafael Baca and just-back-from-injury Tim Ward and Omar Jasseh might get more time as they try to work back into match fitness.

West Brom have brought almost their whole squad to the US for their training camp in advance of the 2011-12 EPL season. That includes Nigerian international Peter Odemwingie, who scored 15 goals — good for fifth in the league — as an EPL newcomer last season.

Quakes fans will undoubtedly prefer to see another international score — namely, Chris Wondolowski, the freshly minted All-Star who is still searching for his scoring touch since rejoining San Jose after his month spent on Gold Cup duty.

Wondolowski, who banged a shot off the post in his return against New York on July 2, said his current three-match drought isn’t adding any pressure on Tuesday’s game.

“It’s always nice to score goals, especially against good comp like West Brom,” Wondolowski told MLSsoccer.com. “But I definitely would rather have an MLS goal.”

Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at sanjosequakes@gmail.com. On Twitter: @sjquakes