Although SJ is a squad tabbed 19th in the MLS Power rankings, it should be no team for FCD to overlook as the Hoops look to start the season hot.
If the Earthquakes fashion a lineup similar to the form they fashioned in last week's final tuneup of the season against Los Angeles Galaxy, they will sport a 4-5-1 formation with two midfielders in front of the backline and three behind the lone forward.
GK: David Bingham; LB: Shaun Francis; CB: Paulo Renato, Victor Bernadez; RB: Marvel Wynne; LDM: JJ Koval; RDM: Jean-Baptise Pierazzi; LM: Shea Salinas; CM: Matias Perez Garcia; RM: Sanna Nyassi; F: Chris Wondolowski
Mauro Diaz vs. SJ's central midfield. With Diaz in full form looking to get the start for 2015 kickoff, it will be interesting to see how he sets the tone for the season in this opening game. He's going up against a central midfield comprised of three Earthquakes. Koval is still fairly young as he enters his second season in the league but with Pierazzi accompanying him, the two could cause a problem in Diaz finding those connecting passes up front. Diaz will also see some trouble battling against fellow Argentine, Perez Garcia, who hopes to play a more key role for his squad.
Keys to Three Points
Wondowho? It doesn't take a rocket scientist to say Chris Wondolowski needs to be marked and not let free. After a 14-goal performance to lead all Earthquakes in the 2014 season, he will pose a threat in FCD's backfield. In 13 games against FCD, he has four goals and one assist. Matt Hedges leads FCD's veteran backline, and the Hoops should be able to eliminate Wondolowski's productivity.
Run past Renato. The Earthquakes added a great piece to their backline in Portuguese defender Paulo Renato just last week. Although new to the squad, he's a natural talent that can have no problem slowing down Tesho Akindele's attack. FCD will need to ping the ball around the 18-yard-box and connect passes up front to get good looks at the goal.
Dominate Dominic. SJ head coach Dominic Kinnear returns to the reigns after a long tenure with Houston Dynamo. The Scottish coach has seen his squad perform pretty well in preseason, winning the latter five games of a 10-game stint. If he can get his squad to strike first, things won't fall in FCD's favor. Kinnear's teams are 118-10-41 when scoring first, and the Earthquakes have only lost one game after scoring first under Kinnear.