San Jose is still fighting for their playoff lives and the Fire are just hoping to salvage something from 2010 before some difficult decisions will need to be made. The pill becomes harder to swallow after acknowleding the fact that former Fire 'keeper Jon Busch is now the main man in goal for the Earthquakes and Tim Ward is the starting right back. Busch has started 12 of their last 13 matches and six in a row since Joe Cannon fractured his ankle in training. The back four is completed with Chris Leitch on the left and the pairing of Brandon McDonald and Jason Hernandez in the middle.
Their midfield was shuffled around a bit with new acquisitions in July but the usual starters consist of Sam Cronin in the holding role, Bobby Convey on the left (among the league leaders in assists with 10), Khari Stephenson or Arturo Alvarez centrally, and some combination of Ryan Johnson, Joey Gjersten and/or Chris Wondolowski switching between forward and right mid. Wondolowski has scored 12 goals on the season to pace the attack. At a bargain price of $48,000.00 the Earthquakes have managed to find one of the most dangerous finishers in the league.
The line up also features....get ready for this.....a designated player who has actually scored a goal and provided assists. Geovanni has 1 goal and 2 assists in six games since joining San Jose. The Quakes are 4-2-0 in those six games. They also have recorded four consecutive clean sheets at home.
Conversely, the Fire have not scored a goal in their last four matches and have not scored from the run of play since August 21 in Houston.....six games ago.
The Fire's line up is anyone's guess at this point. Carlos De Los Cobos eluded to a back line consisting of Steven Kinney and Gonzalo Segares on the outside with Kwame Watson-Siriboe and Dasan Robinson in the middle. Kinney is still listed on the injury report as questionable but he did resume training on Monday.
The midfield is probably set at three spots with Logan Pause, Marco Pappa, and Patrick Nyarko resuming their roles but a decision on the shape of the team and the rest of the midfield will likely be decided once De Los Cobos settles on how much time John Thorrington, Bratislav Ristic, and Corben Bone see in this game.
I'm assuming that Freddie Ljungberg will continue to see time at the withdrawn forward spot during Nery Castillo's absense (although you could argue that he's been absent since he got here). De Los Cobos opted for pace up top to start against Seattle with Calen Carr but that didn't work much better than anything else he's tried this season. Collins John and Brian McBride are also available but both require service to be effective and neither has received much of that.
QUESTIONABLE: Steven Kinney D (L quad hematoma), Nery Castillo F (L quad strain).
OUT: Andre Luiz M (L knee surgery), Ike Opara D (L foot fracture), Joe Cannon GK (L ankle fracture), Ramiro Corrales D (L knee sprain); QUESTIONABLE: Scott Sealy F (L groin strain); PROBABLE: Khari Stephenson M (L ankle sprain)
The Earthquakes defeated the Fire in the season opener at Toyota Park 2-1. The winning goal was scored by Ike Opara in the 82nd minute. Opara was unmarked for a free header providing an early preview for the rest of the season.
The Fire have gone 362 minutes without scoring a goal. The dubious team record is 395 - which was set last season. This is a year of records.......
San Jose 2 Fire 0
With another yellow card, Wilman Conde will serve yet another automatic one game suspension.