For the first time since the 2000 season, the San Jose Earthquakes find themselves in last place in the Western Conference following Wednesday's disappointing 2-1 loss to the Dallas Burn at home. The loss was the second in a row for the Quakes, who are looking to put a stop to the losing streak when they face the MetroStars at Giants Stadium on Saturday, July 10 at 1:00 p.m PT. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN2.
"We are disappointed that we didn't get at least a point on Wednesday," Earthquakes head coach Dominic Kinnear said. "We know that we are a better team than that and we know that we have to start playing like it right now."
While trying to right themselves against the MetroStars, the Quakes will have to do it without Landon Donovan, Brian Ching and Brian Mullan. All three San Jose stars are with the United States National Team for Sunday's international exhibition game against Poland. Eddie Pope and Eddie Gaven will miss the match for the Metros while on national team duty.
"Right now, I'm still not sure what the lineup is going to be," Kinnear said immediately after the Quakes practice on Friday on the hard artificial surface of Giants Stadium.
Kinnear is waiting to see how the Quakes injured players like Jeff Agoos [lower back strain], Ronnie Ekelund [left ankle sprain] and Jamil Walker heal from their injuries before deciding on exactly who will be in the starting lineup.
The Quakes are unbeaten against the Metros in 2004, as the two teams played to a wild 5-5 tie at Spartan Stadium on May 8 and the defeated New York/New Jersey 3-1 on June 12 in San Jose. Now, the Quakes return to the Meadowlands for the first time since last season's dramatic 4-4 tie, which saw San Jose rally several times, high-lighted by a Donovan's game-tying goal in stoppage time.
"After their loss last week, we expect them to come right after us," Kinnear said, referring to the Metros shocking 6-2 loss to D.C. United on July 3.
The Metrostars come into the match having lost three games of their own, and will look to forwards Sergio Galvan Rey and John Wolyniec to supply the offense against a Quakes defense that is likely to include Craig Waibel, Wes Hart, Ryan Cochrane and if able - Jeff Agoos.
"We need to defend better," Kinnear said. "We need to stay with them and then control the ball and continue to move well off the ball."
The Quakes offense will once again be driven by 2004 All-Star starter Richard Mulrooney, and if healthy, Ronnie Ekelund in the middle. Dwayne De Rosario, who has three goals this season, will lead the way for San Jose at the forward position.
"We know that we can play better than we have," Kinnear said. "Right now, we have to play like we are capable of and get the results that we need."
In Giants Stadium, against a team like the Metros that is also desperately in need of a win, it is not going to be easy.