I'm not really sure if there's another team in this league that's as "hot and cold" as the San Jose Earthquakes. I've not watched all their games, to be honest, but from what I've seen over the last few years is that during some games they play really well, the team clicks, and somebody (last year it was Chris Wondolowski) scores at least a brace. Other times they just can't seem to do anything but middle around the field in a vain attempt to score. It's a little mind boggling to be honest.
If we were to go by pure stats and the standings, tonight should be a breeze as San Jose currently sits at the bottom of the Western Conference with 5 points and a -4 goal differential. If this were a regular season game, I'd probably say that we could probably lock this one in the bag and forget about it. But this is a U.S. Open Cup game and those just never seem to go as planned.
A Reserve Game
Chances are tonight that neither team will be looking to field their full starting eleven. Which gives me hope that we'll see neither Chris Wondolowski or Bobby Convey tonight on the pitch, two players that I would normally be very worried about. Those of you who tuned into MLS action last year will remember that it was Chris Wondolowski who won the Golden Boot last year. While Wondolowski has yet to repeat that streak this year, it's still fairly early on in the season.
The flip side of this, of course, is that we'll probably be fielding reserves as well. Not that this is a bad thing, necessarily, it's just something we need to put up with when we have three games within a single week. Unfortunately, I'm not super knowledgeable on San Jose's reserves and substitutes so I can't really say how well they'll match up to ours.
At the very least, however, it should make for an interesting match up with some combinations we've yet to see play, but more on that in the Match Thread.
An Important Game for Both Teams
Some of you may be wondering why this game is even important. I mean, it's just a play-in game to the tournament. We're not even playing in the actual U.S. Open Cup yet, as odd as it might seem. The truth of the matter is that the U.S. Open Cup is able to provide a singular hope for success for two teams could really use one this year.
For the San Jose Earthquakes, especially, they're not exactly considered to be play-off contenders (although they weren't last year either and they still turned up). Getting into and making a deep run or even winning the U.S. Open Cup is often times a worthy enough reward for a struggling team, especially as the tournament gains prominence
For the Portland Timbers, the game and tournament are equally as important. Not only is the team out to prove itself as the "new kid on the block," but it's also a tournament trophy that the Seattle Sounders have held for two years running now and you bet your ass they're going for number three this year. Should the Portland Timbers win the trophy or, at the very least, knock Seattle out in some way it will go along ways towards establishing the success of the club on the field.
Being that this is just a play-in game, however, it will be interesting to see how each team plays tonight. Will they want to exert themselves for the chance at getting into the U.S. Open Cup and possibly losing this week's regular season game because of it? Or will they prefer to play in a more relaxed fashion and instead opt to save energy for the regular season?
Tonight's game is not being broadcast on television, however, the Portland Timbers website will have a live stream running beginning at 7:30 PM. If you want to go to the match, I believe tickets are still available.
Match thread will be up between 12:00 and 1:00 PM.