Fresh off a vital upset victory over the rival Los Angeles Galaxy the Earthquakes are hitting the road to play what is quickly becoming the most glamorous team in the MLS. With the recent signing of forward Thierry Henry the Red Bulls boast three designated players, the most of any MLS team. Midfielder/defender Rafael Martinez and forward Juan Pablo Angel round out New York's triumvirate of stars. San Jose's challenge will be to contain New York's famous forwards and see if their own designated player can help create on offense.
This game is one of three left on the Earthquake's schedule (out of 11 remaining games) against a team with a positive goal differential. A tie and a point would be an adequate result, and a win would provide some major confidence and momentum going into a soft end of season schedule.
Players To Watch (Obvious Division):
Juan Pablo Angel - For all the (justified) excitement over Henry's arrival, Angel remains the player that drives the New York attack. His goal scoring record of 57 in 97 MLS games is impeccable and his importance is difficult to understate. Bobby Burling and Jon Busch will have their hands full.
Geovanni - Although he's not currently listed in the probably starting lineup, I have a hard time believing that Giovanni won't get a healthy portion of playing time today. Speculation is building that San Jose's first designated player will be deployed as a forward rather than as a midfielder. If that is the case I'm sure Frank Yallop has visions of Giovanni emulating the type of form shown by Juan Pablo Angel. The danger of putting Geovanni up top is that he won't get enough time on the ball if San Jose's midfielders are unable to maintain a decent amount of possession. It wouldn't be surprising to see Geovanni play as sort of a withdrawn striker in a 4-4-1-1 formation to give him a better chance to connect with Khari Stephenson in the midfield and to give him more space for his creativity to go to work.
Players To Watch (Non-Obvious Division):
Bobby Convey - Still playing out of position as a defender, Convey could be the key to the game. With his attacking ability Convey could push forward to provide greater attacking power to San Jose's offense - a luxury the Quakes rarely get from their defenders. But if Convey strays too far forward that will give a dangerous New York attack the space it needs to push forward.
Joel Lindpere - New York's leading assist man will look to create havoc for the Quake defense from the wing position. The Estonian midfielder will probably be matched up frequently against recent Quake newcomer Tim Ward, who has looked solid so far. But preventing Lindpere from getting the ball to Henry and Angel in dangerous positions will be a tall task.