The Revs are back on the road this weekend, this time across the country in San Jose where they will take on the Earthquakes on Saturday night (10:30pm ET) at Buck Shaw Stadium. San Jose, the third largest city in California and tenth largest in the United States, is a hike for the boys in blue, but at least they can look forward to some warm weather (we expect 58 degrees and rainy at kickoff) in the land where people still aren't over Sublime yet.
Neither team has a win yet this season, so this will be a crucial match for the Quakes to get their first of the year. For the Revs, the onus might not be so much on winning as simply just finding the back of the net, something they've yet to be able to do thus far in 2014. San Jose boasts a 20-12-5 record against New England, but last season the Revs were the victors in the two sides' yearly meeting, winning 2-0 at Gillette Stadium. Playing at Buck Shaw, however, is a whole different match-up.
Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski and defender Clarence Goodson were recently called up to the United States Men's National Team for their upcoming friendly against Mexico next Wednesday. Unfortunately for us, they'll still be there in San Jose this weekend. Wondolowski in particular will prove to be the Revolution's biggest threat as he is one of the most lethal strikers in Major League Soccer. He notched the game-winner in the Revs' last visit to San Jose, which Wikipedia tells me is the birthplace of Nikki Sixx, wide receiver James Jones, and DJ Shadow. Smash Mouth is also from San Jose.
As for tactics, the Revs should already know exactly what's in store for them. The Quakes have a reputation as being a very physical and direct team. They like to play "Route 1" ball and lean heavily on their target man (and resident MLS bully), Steven Lenhart, to hold-up the ball in the attacking third and play off of Wondo and/or any combination of the San Jose's midfield. I expect the Revs to roll out the same backline as last week, and it will likely be A.J. Soares' job to stick to Lenhart like glue while captain Jose Goncalves deals with Wondolowski.
The Quakes' flank play will likely be manned by Shea Salinas and Atiba Harris, with Salinas being the main creator when the Quakes play out of the midfield. Sam Cronin and newcomer Jean-Baptiste Pierazzi will be the most probable candidates in the middle of the park. I expect Shaun Francis, Clarence Goodson, Victor Bernardez, and Cordell Cato comprised the Quakes' backline last weekend against Sporting Kansas City. There's a good chance that nothing will change here against New England. Jon Busch will man the goal.
The Revs will need to be on their A-game when it comes to defending set pieces as San Jose likes to capitalize on dead ball opportunities. They could also benefit from being more dangerous on their own set pieces as well. I expect Daigo Kobayashi to fill-in for the injured Kelyn Rowe, but Heaps may opt to play Kobayashi deeper in a similar double-pivot midfield tandem like we saw against the Philadelphia Union. I'll be shocked if Andy Dorman doesn't get the nod at defensive midfield after his top shelf outing in that role last week against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
The one change I'd be particularly interested to see is Dimitry Imbongo playing up top in place of Teal Bunbury. Imbongo has more of a physical presence and may be better suited to take on the hard-nosed San Jose backline. Plus, he scored against them last year in Foxborough.
Be sure to join us right here on The Bent Musket for our live game thread. Go Revs.