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STL to Experience Quakes at City Park

Before anyone freaks out, no the New Madrid Fault is not acting up! This is a SOCCER blog not a geology blog. Though I do write for you all to read from a cave... Before I get too off topic there is a match to preview! Coming to you a little behind schedule but just in time to get you up to speed for this match, that's right! It's the Keys to the City! Going into this match there are a couple injury updates to be made.

Tim Parker appears to be Questionable with a muscle injury, likely just getting a much deserved rest since he has played every single minute of the first 3 matches. We could see Josh Yaro get his first start, could Lucas Bartlett or Jon Bell get a run out? The answer will come closer to game time but doesn't change the keys too much. Isak Jensen is no longer listed as unavailable and there is a small possibility he makes the bench. Njabulo Blom is still out sick and there is some drama surrounding that and an attempt to call him up for international duty for South Africa, but that is still developing. As for the Quakes they will be without Daniel in net, though James Marcinkowski is more than up to the challenge. Also missing will be Judson, Nathan, and Niko Tsakiris though we already knew about those injuries. Most importantly though is Jamiro Monteiro missing this match after getting a silly red card in stoppage time of the Quakes last match. With that background laid out, let's get into the Keys to the City:

Location, Location, Location

Be the Apex Predators

Arch it Up

Location, Location, Location

San Jose are a more possession based team, they had 60% of it in their last 2 matches. They will build up with quick and incisive passes, using their central players as touch stones to break back out wide, more specifically on the right side. If that doesn't work then expect to see some passing across the high back line to switch the point of attack. A lot of this style hinges on strong individual play and the Quakes have that in the form of Jackson Yueill, Cade Cowell, Carlos Akapo, and lastly (arguably most deadly) Christian Espinoza.

In order to minimize this strength what City will have to do is be strong in their defensive shape. This allows them to be right on a player as he is receiving a pass not allowing them to turn and dribble up the pitch, stifling a build up. With San Jose wanting to play up that right side it will be very tempting for the center backs to get sucked out wide, allowing for big open areas for Jeremy Ebobisse to get into and use his skills to bury a well timed cross. Speaking of center backs, set pieces are going to be key on both sides of the ball, Quakes have a threat there and so does City. The tipping point of this game could easily be who is better at marking or who is better at getting away from said markers.

Be the Apex Predators

City sit atop the table for now, they need to act like they belong here. In order to do that just keep doing what got you here: Striking quick, striking hard, and winning duels in the hard areas. City currently lead the league in tackles and duels won and several of those were in key areas on the pitch, be it dangerous areas for a needed clearance or high up the field for a short and threatening attack. Win the duels in the midfield and cut out those passes when you can. Lie in wait and pounce on the bad pass that has shown to be inevitable against this high press and turn it into a lethal attack. San Jose dont have the strongest back line (though much improved from last season) and will likely need to keep attacking to add to a lead instead of protecting it, leaving them more vulnerable. Add that on to their history of not the best decision making on tackles in dangerous areas and you can get a good mix of quick counters a dangerous set pieces

Arch it Up

Arch it Up! Don't be afraid to play the long direct ball over the top. Winning the ball in your own defensive third can be hard to build into a quick threatening counter at times but a way around that is to use one of the biggest assets City have: PACE. By using speed off the ball and getting into open spaces the long ball becomes a real danger. In order to get those spaces open for players to run into there will need to be cutting and curving runs to draw the Quakes defense out of position and creating that space for Klauss to run on to a well weighted ball. And last but not least, use the Arch City Energy from the fans. City Park will be loud and excited to watch the match and this team has shown they can feed off that energy. This A.C.E. up their sleeve can be a real difference maker.

Looking at how these two teams are going to match up, it’s a real battle of will the stronger individual efforts win out or will this group that seems to be greater than the sum of its parts continue to defy expectation. All things considered it will be an exciting match for sure and only the guys on the field can decide this one for us. In my barely relevant opinion (considering I cant call final scores to save my life apparently) this is either going to be a draw or a one goal game. The small sample size gives one goal games the advantage to City and history being made in St. Louis.

But what do you think, reader? Did I get it right? Did I get it wrong? Let me know in the comments!

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