FC Dallas vs San Jose Earthquakes: Preview, Scouting and Prediction

USA TODAY Sports

San Jose has won four out of their last five games.

After picking up their first win in 11-games, FC Dallas returns home to battle the San Jose Earthquakes for the final match in the month of August.

Dallas won the prior meeting this season with San Jose, 1-0 on a Fabian Castillo goal.

San Jose have won four out of their last five games but to be fair, all four wins were at home. Their last road win came in June in Colorado.

FC Dallas Notes:

14. That is the total number of goal scorers this season by FC Dallas. Tied for most in MLS. Blas Perez leads all scores with nine goals but the next top scorer after him is Jackson with three. Time for someone to get hot.

Speaking of Perez. He is now tied for sixth place in the league's Golden Boot race. He is just five goals behind the league leaders.

Scouting San Jose:

The Quakes are definitely not the same team that came to Frisco back in May. Their recent run of four wins out of five games has proven that their early slump was more about Frank Yallop, injuries and just poor play defensively. Ever since interim manager Mark Watson took over, his club is 6-4-0.

Now days, the Quakes are better defensively with former FC Dallas defender Clarence Goodson in the middle of the defense. He and Victor Bernardez make a very tough one-two punch in the center of the defense.

One thing is clear though too about their recent turn around, Chris Wondolowski is starting to get hot again. Either it is due to the health of guys like Alan Gordon and Marvin Chavez or the addition of someone like Jaime Atlas, whatever it may be Wondo clearly is starting to get back to his old self with three goals in the last three matches. All-time against Dallas, Wondo has three goals and one assist.

The midfield tandem of Rafeal Baca and Sam Cronin is also starting to show it's former self as well. Last year, the two combined well in the middle of the field as they helped San Jose earn a Supporters' Shield. Finally healthy and on the same page this season, the two are starting to put together a nice run of games. Expect Cronin to be all over Mauro Diaz and David Ferreira in this one. He has a tendency to foul a good bit in the open field against playmakers.

Lineup projection:

Goalkeeper: Joe Busch; RB: Steven Beitashour; CB: Victor Bernardez, Clarence Goodson; LB: Justin Marrow; RM: Marvin Chavez; CM: Sam Cronin, Rafael Baca; LM: Jaime Atlas; FW: Chris Wondolowski, Alan Gordon

Keys to three points:

Play smart. For a team playing the last leg of a three-games in seven days stretch, playing with the old 'emotional intelligence' will be vital tomorrow. San Jose is a team that loves to bang bodies around and cause problems for other teams with their physical play. They have toned down their bang-brothers style of play since Yallop left but anytime they have Stephen Lenhart on the field, you know there will be fouls committed.

Play with purpose. San Jose is a team that does will at committing numbers forward only when they have to. They'll counter attack the living daylights out of you, if you let them. They'll allow Dallas to have space and possession in this one, so the midfield of Dallas has to be smart with how they possess and pass the ball. Playing sloppy passes through the middle of the field will be gobbled up by Cronin and Baca.

Test Busch often. As good of a keeper as Jon Busch is, he is prone to mistakes in goal. I view him and Dan Kennedy in the same light with that regard. Its not that he isn't a good keeper, it is that teams make him look like a good keeper when they don't test him enough. Busch has given up 35 goals this season, second-most in MLS. He's made 82 saves this season for a reason, his defense was poor in front of him and allow other teams to pepper him with shots. Dallas has to do this on Saturday if they want any chance of beating San Jose.

Ride that momentum. The monkey (or gorilla as I liked to call it) is off their backs now. They got the win on Wednesday against Chivas and while Chivas is a dreadful club, a win is a win. Time to build off that win and use that new found confidence and momentum to beat San Jose. The Quakes have been good lately but they aren't a great road team either. They'll sit back and take their chances when they get them and more than likely wait until the late stages of the game to throw a lot of numbers forward. Dallas needs to get the early advantage and hold on.

Prediction:

This won't be an easy game. The fatigue from the travel and lineup shuffling can do a number on on any team. Dallas has to use that momentum though from their previous game and make the most of it. San Jose is good and will make them pay if the defense isn't careful and if the midfield doesn't hold the ball well. I want to be confident about this game but I need to see more than just what I saw out of that 30 minutes against Chivas on Wednesday. I think a draw is a likely outcome in this one.

Dallas 1, San Jose 1

What do you think the score will be tomorrow? See a winning streak here? Or will the 11-game winless rut-style of play show its ugly head again?

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