Without a win in two games so far this season, the San Jose Earthquakes take to the field tomorrow against the New England Revolution looking to get on track. Fans can watch the game, which takes place at 4 p.m. PT at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., live on Fox Sports Net and listen to it on 1590 KLIV. Fans can also follow all of the action right here at SJEarthquakes.com.
The Earthquakes have been dominant in their recent history over the Revs, as they are unbeaten in their last seven games vs. New England, posting a 6-0-1 record. Things could be different this time around though, as the Quakes are 0-1-1 in the young season.
"Right now out of six possible points, we only have one," Earthquakes head coach Dominic Kinnear said. "We know that is not us."
"New England is a strong team," Earthquakes goalkeeper and MLS Player of the Week Pat Onstad said. "They obviously have some dangerous players like Taylor Twellman and Joe Max-Moore and this is going to be their home opener, so we know that they are going to be pumped up and ready for us."
The Quakes have won four straight games in New England, and earned a 2-0 win at Gillette Stadium on June 1, 2002 and a 1-1 tie on Aug. 16, 2002. San Jose is expecting the Revs to steam forward with an attack that saw them lose a 3-2 game in their season opener in Los Angeles on April 3. Midfielders like Steve Ralston and Jose Cancela are key to the Revolution's game plan.
"We know who their dangerous players are," Kinnear said. "Cancela likes to hold the ball and can really create some problems for us if he is given time, so we need to limit that. Ralston also gives their forwards great service, so we have to contain him."
Containing the Revolution midfield is often easier said than done, as New England boasts second-year scoring threat Pat Noonan and solid veteran Brian Kamler as well.
On the wide field at Gillette Stadium, the Earthquakes will once again attempt to use their quickness up front to break Landon Donovan and Dwayne De Rosario free for a chance to beat goalkeeper Adin Brown, who is one of the toughest net minders in the league.
In 180 minutes of action in 2004, the Quakes have scored just one goal, that coming from a Ronnie Ekelund penalty kick. San Jose's lack of scoring does not have many on the team concerned, however. The Earthquakes went through a much longer scoring drought to close out the 2003 regular season before exploding for 12 goals in four playoff games en route to winning the MLS Cup.
"I'm really not that concerned about [the lack of scoring]," Kinnear said. "I've said this before, but we have had some pretty good opportunities that I feel we will start putting away. If we weren't getting those chances, then I would be worried."
Kinnear and the Quakes know they will have to make the most out of their chances against a Revolution defense that can be stingy, even without standout central defender Carlos Llamosa, who is out for an extended period of time with a knee injury.
"New England defends well," Kinnear said. "They are a good team, and they have a truly balanced attack."
As they push forward against New England, the Quakes are likely to face Rusty Pierce, Joey Franchino, Jay Heaps and Daouda Kante. The San Jose lineup could remain similar to last week's, with defender Wes Hart probably holding on to the right back spot after making his first career Quakes start on April 10. The notable change in the Quakes lineup will be the absence of Ramiro Corrales, who is suspended from Saturday's game following last week's red card.
"I thought that it took Wes [Hart] about 15 minutes to get totally into his groove last week," Kinnear said. "I am sure he was probably thinking about [DaMarcus] Beasley. Most right backs in this league go into games thinking about him. I thought he had a strong game and helped out on defense."
Kinnear could use either Ian Russell or Arturo Alvarez on the left midfield to replace Corrales in the lineup, as Brian Mullan, Ronnie Ekelund and Richard Mulrooney will likely join him in the midfield and Donovan and De Rosario at forward. Brian Ching, who had his stellar Quakes debut season end prematurely the last time San Jose was in New England when he suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon, is also a candidate to see action.
"I'm not really thinking about coming back to New England," Ching said. "That is not something that I have thought about. I am just looking forward to getting completely healthy and trying to get back to the point where I think I can help the team."
Ching is still not feeling 100 percent as he continues to slowly recover from the painful and frustrating injury.
"I want to get back to the point to where I don't even have to think about it," Ching said about the injury. "I can still feel it once in a while."
"All the credit goes to Brian," Kinnear said. "He has worked extremely hard throughout the preseason to get to where he is right now. You can ask everyone about that, Brian is really working hard and I know that he will eventually get back to the way he was playing when we got injured."
Without a win so far, the Quakes are hoping that they can also return to the way the club was playing when it captured its second MLS Cup title in three seasons.