The San Jose Earthquakes return to their new home Easter Sunday at 2 p.m., hosting Real Salt Lake for their second game ever at Avaya Stadium.
Spurred on by a raucous sellout crowd, The Quakes (2-2-0, 6 pts.) impressed in their home opener on March 22, scoring two early goals en route to a 3-1 victory over visiting Chicago Fire and continuing the momentum set up by an improbable road victory a week before in Seattle.
After failing to extend their win steak to three games last weekend, San Jose will hope their is still some magic left over from Avaya’s opening as they face a talented RSL team coming off an emotional late-goal win last weekend.
Returning to the lineup for San Jose is Fatai Alashe, the rookie who scored the first goal in the Avaya opener, and who was absent last week after being called up to the United States Under-23 squad. The 22-year old kept rolling, scoring in his international debut.
Jean Baptiste Pierazzi replaced Alashe as the only change for the Quakes last weekend, but San Jose will see a few more on Sunday with right-back Marvell Wynne almost certainly out with a hamstring injury and midfielder Sanna Nyassi questionable with a back strain.
The absence of Wynne complicates an already muddled situation at full-back for San Jose, who didn’t get a very good performance from left-back Shaun Francis at the weekend. Francis is filling in for first choice left back Jordan Stewart, who has yet to play in 2015 with a nagging calf strain. Cordell Cato filled in for Wynne after his early exit in New England, and the only other option would be Ty Harden, a converted center back.
The Earthquakes haven’t been able to trot out a consistent back line due to injury and suspensions to start the season. San Jose has given up six goals in their first four matches, tied for most in MLS. They are also tied for the MLS lead in scoring, also with six.
Match-ups to watch
Chris Wondolowski vs. Jamison Olave
The all-time leading goal scorer in Quakes history has gotten off to a hot start, opening the season with three goals in four matches. Wondo scored from the penalty spot in last weeks loss to New England, and played an excellent all-around game, with Whoscored naming the 32-year old to last week’s best XI.
At 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, Olave is a hulking presence and one of the best central defenders in MLS. The battle should be an entertaining and physical one.
Javier Morales vs. San Jose defensive midfield
Morales is RSL’s best player and bossed last week’s game, providing assists on both goals. The matchup against the Argentinian will be a good test for San Jose’s young defensive midfielders Alashe and JJ Koval.
San Jose Earthquakes 1, Real Salt Lake 1