San Jose Earthquakes welcome Vancouver Whitecaps: Match Preview

The San Jose Earthquakes line up for their 2017 season-opener against the Montreal Impact. Photo courtesy: Lyndsay Radnedge/Center Line Soccer)

The San Jose Earthquakes will welcome their second Canadian guest in as many weeks Saturday when the Vancouver Whitecaps visit Avaya Stadium, the Quakes are looking to build on the momentum that helped them usher in the new campaign with a 1-0 victory over the Montreal Impact.

Vancouver’s fortunes in 2017 have been a bit different, the Whitecaps are still seeking their inaugural goal of the season, they opened the season to a scoreless tie against Philadelphia last week.

The beginning of manager Carl Robinson’s season couldn’t become anymore complicated than it already is — the Whitecaps will immediately depart from San Jose after the game to Mexico for their CCL semifinal against Tigres UNAL,which has left the manager with a bit of a headache when it comes to roster selection.

Any progress against Monterey will require fresh legs for Robinson’s squad, meaning important pieces could be seen on the bench Saturday night. Kekuta Manneh and Fredy Montero could all see very limited time on the pitch against San Jose.

Avaya’s crowd is likely hoping to catch a glimpse of Vancouver’s 16-year-old soccer phenom, Alphonso Davies, who has started twice in MLS play and has been a regular starter for Vancouver in the CONCACAF Champions League. He scored to help the Whitecaps beat the New York Red Bulls 2-0 in Champions League competition on March 2.

Robinson is also still awaiting the return of Christian Bolanos and Yordy Reyna.

The revamped San Jose Earthquakes saw their retooled roster go to work immediately in last week’s season-opener. Costa Rican forward Marco Urena and German defender Florian Jungwirth — both newcomers who were offseason acquisitions from newly minted general manager Jesse Fioranelli — saw action in the Week 1 contest. Dutch forward Danny Hoesen and Albanian midfielder Jahmir Hyka also made appearances late in the contest to help secure San Jose the victory over Montreal.

Quakes manager Dominic Kinnear isn’t ready to put a gold star sticker on the season just yet, but he likes what he’s seen from the assembled talent thus far.

“I like the roster we have put together,” Kinnear said. “You can’t necessarily base it off one game, but it does show us the potential.”

For 34-year-old captain Chris Wondolowski, it’s nice to have some younger blood around. If, for nothing else, for the former U.S. men’s national team member to serve as a mentor.

“We have done a great job of infusing our team with some youth and some life, and these are some talented guys that understand the game and believe in our system and how we play,” he said.

San Jose have played to clean sheets in four of their last eight matches at Avaya Stadium, and allowed just 12 goals against at home last year, tied for third-lowest in the league. Vancouver have not scored an away goal in eight of their last nine road games, and previously played the Quakes to a 0-0 draw at Avaya last season.

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