After a 12 day break between MLS matches the Earthquakes return to the season schedule with one of their toughest games of the year. The Galaxy are almost certainly the best team in the MLS and San Jose wasn't lucky enough to play them during the World Cup. Los Angeles is eight points clear of the 2nd best team and boasts a sterling +19 goal differential. They have yet to lose a game at home and are coming off a solid road win in Washington D.C.
To steal a point or pull the upset Jon Busch will have to continue his excellent form in front of goal and the Quakes will have to pass and defend more like they did against Tottenham on Saturday than they did against Philadelphia in their last league game. The Galaxy will not squander 90 minutes of sustained possession like Philadelphia did, so without a stronger performance from their midfield San Jose will be hard pressed to win.
Galaxy Players to Watch:
Landon Donovan - Do I really need to describe why? The most decorated footballer in American history is in top form. Catch him while he's still on this side of the world. Despite MLS's reluctance to sell their most valuable asset, Manchester City's endless stream of liquid cash is a difficult siren to resist.
Edson Buddle - Despite his struggles in South Africa Buddle has enjoyed a breakout season as a target man. If the Quakes can keep him off the score sheet it will go a long way towards a positive result.
Keys to the game:
Creativity from the strikers - A last second goal from Arturo Alvarez aside, San Jose's forwards have struggled to make an impact of late. That can't continue against the stingiest defense in the MLS. Alvarez, Glenn, Wondolowski - somebody has to step up and make something happen in front of goal.
Contesting Donovan - Landon showed off what he can do when given space in South Africa as he scored two open play goals and constantly sent great crosses into the box. If San Jose can keep the ball away from him and harass him when he does get it they just might have a fighting chance.
Midfield possession - After getting dominated by Philadelphia's midfield San Jose faces a much better unit. Nevertheless, improvement must be made. It's likely that the majority of the game will be played in the San Jose 3rd of the field, but if the Quakes can win some of the ball then they'll have that many more chances to counter attack.