SAN JOSE, Calif. — The schedule says the San Jose Earthquakes are hosting Swansea City of the English Premier League in an international friendly on Tuesday night (10:30 pm ET).
In point of fact, the Quakes are mostly going to be facing off with expectations.
San Jose head coach Frank Yallop said Monday that he will be giving many of his lesser-used players a chance to shine against Swansea — and thus provide a compelling argument that they should receive more playing time in the Quakes’ final 11 regular-season matches.
“A lot of the young guys will get chances to play,” Yallop told MLSsoccer.com. “Guys that haven’t played much, for sure. It’s a good opportunity.
“The result is irrelevant. I’m not worried about the result. I want to see performances, individually. Show me what you’ve got, and show your teammates what you’ve got.”
Given those parameters, the Swansea match could be a key barometer for players such as Khari Stephenson, Sercan Güvenisik and Ike Opara — guys who earned playing time earlier this year but have not had much work since San Jose came back June 20 from a nearly month-long break for international dates.
It’s also a chance for injured players to round back into form. The biggest name on that list is rookie winger Sam Garza, who returned Saturday in a reserve role against Chicago after missing more than a month due to a fractured rib.
With the Quakes wanting to make sure the tightness in Marvin Chávez’s left hamstring doesn’t become something more serious, it’s likely that Garza will start on the right side of San Jose’s midfield.
“It’s going to be interesting to see how far I can go and how long I can last,” Garza said. “I’ve just got to go out there and be smart.”
That would be a bit of dream fulfillment for the UC Santa Barbara product, whose history of EPL viewing goes back to growing up in Texas.
“It’s a dream,” Garza said. “Obviously, you watch EPL all the time, every weekend when I was in high school. So it’s going to be a good test for us. It’ll be fun to showcase my talents against some of the best in the world.”
Swansea, who are getting ready for their second EPL campaign after surviving in 11th place as newcomers last season, will be without young stars Joe Allen, Scott Sinclair and Neil Taylor.
That trio is part of the British Olympic team hoping to take gold in the London Games. The Swans are bringing some reinforcements, however, including Jonathan de Guzman, a Villarreal loanee and the younger brother of FC Dallas midfielder Julian de Guzman.
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.