Montreal Impact vs San Jose Earthquakes GAME PREVIEW : 3 Questions with Lisa Erickson

Tony Medina

Following their 6-0 destruction of rivals TFC on Wednesday night in the Amway Canadian Championship, the Impact head out to sunny California to play the San Jose Earthquakes in what should be a great East Coast vs. West Coast battle.

The win against TFC came with a heavy price as Italian newcomer Daniele Paponi was lost due to a hamstring injury (should be absent 4-6 weeks) and Captain Davy Arnaud was subbed off with concussion like symptoms. Both losses are huge. Paponi has made an immediate ‘Impact' on this squad while Arnaud has been on the team's best players. (As of the writing of this article, there still has not been any info released on the extent of the Captain's injury or how long he will be out of action).

Some good news was received when the organization announced that CB Matteo Ferrari is now match fit and should start on Saturday.

Coach Marco now faces some tough decisions. Does he revert back to a 1 striker system with Marco Di Vaio as the lone man up front? Does Andrew Wenger finally get a chance to start up front alongside the Italian superstar? Does he start Karl Ouimette or Wandrille Lefevre alongside Ferrari at CB? With so many games in so few days, does he make more changes to his starting lineup in an effort to keep his troops as fresh as possible?

As the current kings of the Eastern Conference, it is clear that the Impact manager has made all the right calls so far this season and fans hope that his streak of great decision making continues.

To help get your ready for this game, we've asked our friend Lisa Erickson (Twitter: @LaFemmeLoca ) from Center Line Soccer and Quake, Rattle and Goal to help provide an inside look at this weekend's enemies.

Last season, Chris Wondolowski scored 27 goals in 31 games. In 9 games this year, he only has 4 goals. Is there any specific reason to explain why he is off last year's pace or is it just a matter of time before he explodes and starts filling up the net like last year?

Wondolowski has always been a streaky striker over the years. Normally he doesn't get ‘hot' until summer, so last year more people were surprised at how well he started. Chris also depends on a supporting cast of characters of which he plays the poacher. This year with so many of the usual suspects out injured, he either didn't have that target forward to draw defenders or speedy wingers to drop perfect passes into his lap. I think as Steven Beitashour, Marvin Chavez, Alan Gordon and Steven Lenhart all regularly get into the match Wondo will find his mojo again and start making a run for the Golden Boot.

2. Who has been the team's MVP so far this season and why? Who has been the team's most disappointing player and why?

Picking a team MVP right now is so hard. There have been so many lineups so many changes over the last nine games. Wondo has the most goals, the rookie Adam Jahn has given the team a few points, Shea Salinas has been a workhorse with assists. No one is just standing out as the best player yet.

The most disappointing player has to be Alan Gordon. From being out injured for so long at the beginning of the season, to causing "Boot Gate" which allowed Vancouver to score and steal 2 points from the Quakes, finally to getting red carded against Portland and uttering a word that caused an additional 3 match suspension. I think all the Quakes fans are ready for him to be back scoring goals and drama-free for the rest of the season.

3. What will be the Earthquakes game plan against the Impact this weekend, especially considering that Alessandro Nesta will be missing?

Having Nesta, Paponi, and potentially Arnaud being out injured; Bernier, Brovsky, Tissot, LeFevre, Camara and Mapp having played a full energized 99 minutes and Di Vaio being needed for 61 minutes on Wednesday's 6 - 0 blowout of Toronto is all music to the ears of the Quakes fans. I think the emotional Wednesday night, mixed with a long flight across the continent and then add in the hot weather will be a bit too much for the older Montreal lineup. I am sure that Jahn and Wondo will attack the Impacts' backline and test Troy Perkins a lot. I think Steven Beitashour and Justin Morrow will overlap with Chavez and Salinas as they all speed down the flanks finally cutting in to Rafael Baca and Sam Cronin in order to get the best balls into the box in hopes for a set piece option, if not an outright goal of their own. All in all, I think the Quakes will press hard and keep the game at a frantic speed to tire out Montreal who is playing their fourth game in a week and a half.

Ex-Impact Report: The Earthquakes have for Impact player Mike Fucito on the roster. Has he done anything positive so far this season? What role does he have with the team this year?

Mike Fucito is a fighter and a hard worker. We laugh and say if he was only four inches taller he would be the "Bash Brothers" long lost triplet! He has the grit and the grind of Gordon and Lenhart but lacks the height to win the balls in the air. He has played beside Wondo while the Bash Brothers were out injured and he might see the pitch with them both now being suspended.

Predictions

Starting XI (including formation)

4 - 4 - 2

Busch

Beitashour - Attakora - Bernardez - Morrow

Cronin

Chavez - Baca - Salinas

Wondolowski - Jahn

Final score

Quakes squeak out the win 2 -1

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