FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Recent years have revealed two steadfast truths about the San Jose Earthquakes: they regularly score goals deep into second-half stoppage time (“Goonies Never Say Die”), and they thrive on a no-frills, direct style of play which caters to the strengths of their forwards.
In their first two matches this season the Earthquakes have paired target man Steven Lenhart up top with lethal finisher Chris Wondolowski, while powerful striker Alan Gordon has featured off the bench. Lenhart and Gordon serve as prototypical aerial targets, while Wondolowski is one of MLS’ deadliest poachers.
That approach means that when the Revs visit the Earthquakes at Buck Shaw Stadium on Saturday night, they must not only be strong in every aerial challenge, but also ready to contest for the second and third balls which Wondolowski has made a reputation of cleaning up.
“They’ve got a lot of physical forwards and we know that,” said defender Andrew Farrell. “We’re going to be getting some direct balls, and it’ll be a little bit different from Vancouver in that they’ll probably go up for balls as opposed to trying to get in behind. So it’s going to be important for the back four, especially the center backs, to challenge those balls and then get the second and third balls.
“[Wondolowski’s] a poacher. He’s been scoring goals for the U.S. National Team and also for San Jose, so it’s going to be important to get those balls and then be able to play out of that and get our attack going.”
Getting the attack going is the next step for New England after putting together a solid defensive performance last weekend against Vancouver. The Revs looked much like last year’s side – which set a club record with 14 clean sheets – in shutting out the Whitecaps, but they were left frustrated at the other end of the field as they remained goalless in a 0-0 draw.
“The energy and the effort was spot on,” said head coach Jay Heaps. “We’ve got to be a little bit better in the final third and on set pieces. Those are areas that we’re continuing to work on.”