The new MLS season is upon us, and with the Earthquakes opening up their Supporter's Shield defense at home against the always difficult Real Salt Lake on Sunday, we must look at how the Quakes prepared for the new season.
San Jose played eight matches over the past month starting with matches against Houston and Colorado down in Arizona. As I truly believe preseason results are meaningless (I will note that the Quakes only lost twice), I won't be focusing on the scores. Preseason is a great way to see any new changes to the team, new players, new formations, a few trialists here and there.
If appearances and time spent on the field are any indicator (and I believe they are) it seems Ramiro Corrales is poised to play significant minutes again this season, likely in midfield. I'm painfully hopeful that this is only due to Chavez's recovery from his injured MCL and not par for the entire season. Corrales is a fantastic leader, and he isn't a bad player, but his lack of speed completely wastes whichever side he is getting played on.
With Gordon and Lenhart not being available against RSL, Fucito is the most likely candidate for the start on Sunday. While I had my reservations about him when we traded away our last pick for another forward in an attack heavy team, it looks like it could have been a brilliant piece of business. Despite being a polar opposite to both Gordon and Lenhart's style of play, Fucito has scored more than a few goals this pre-season, and seems to have formed a decent partnership with Wondo.
Dan Gargan will be your starting right back until Steven Beitashour is entirely healed. One thing Yallop did most of the preseason is keep his expected gameday backline together for the entire preseason. They didn't play every match, but when they started, it always was Gargan, Bernardez, Hernandez, and Morrow. I love this move, gets the spine of your team acclimated, especially with a new right back that may have to play extended minutes early in the season.
Your likely lineup against RSL: Busch, Gargan, Bernardez, Hernandez, Morrow, Salinas, Baca, Cronin, Corrales, Wondolowski, Fucito.