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Know Your Opponent: San Jose Earthquakes

The Houston Dynamo play host to the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday afternoon at BBVA Compass Stadium (3 p.m. CT | TICKETS). After a hot start at home with consecutive wins to start the year, the Quakes have fallen off the pace a tad, with three draws and two losses in their subsequent matches (2-2-3, 9 points).

After scoring a league-low 32 goals last year, the Quakes went out and got Danny Hoesen and Jahmir Hyka from Europe to bolster the attack. Have they been able to be effective with the mainstay of their offense, Chris Wondolowski?

The Quakes have eight goals in 7 matches and I am sure they are thirsting for more goals. Hoesen and Hyka are still feeling their way around MLS so the verdict is still out. The club has some good movement and mobility and former Dynamo Chris Wondolowski is always a danger, but is looking for better form at this point like many strikers in MLS.

The hallmark of a Dominic Kinnear team, as Dynamo fans know, is that they’re going to be stout defensively and tough to break down. Should we expect anything different from this Quakes team on Saturday?

I think through some new individuals they bring some differences and some adventure, Marco Urena shows up in different areas while the trio mentioned above are all on course to score goals at some time, one would think. 

They may not have gotten off to rip roaring starts but one can only think they will perform better as they get opportunity in the future. I have been impressed with outside back Nick Lima, who has played the most minutes in MLS as a rookie, and David Bingham is an excellent goalkeeper who will be tested at BBVA Compass Stadium.

Saturday will be the third game in nine days for San Jose, and coming off of a cross-country midweek trip to New England (a 0-0 draw on Wednesday). Especially with it being an afternoon kickoff in Houston, how will they look to manage the game and their own fatigue?

MLS teams have to go through this, but being on the West Coast is pretty brutal – plus you are coming off the pounding on an artificial surface in New England. That said, the Quakes got their first road point of the year so that might be a platform.

I'm sure they know the Dynamo will come at them with conviction at home and being in it at halftime is likely the goal. The Quakes will have to marry deep defending and moments of pressure of their own, some of that pressure might come off the opening kickoff before they settled back in. Dealing with the Dynamo athleticism and pressing game leads to open games, which we have seen in Houston. Three games in nine days is always a challenge.

As for the Dynamo, playing an engaged, focused 90 minutes remains the challenge but if they get Romell Quioto and A.J. DeLaGarza back in the starting lineup, it will be a confidence builder.