Dom Kinnear, entering the third year of his second stint as the San Jose Earthquakes’ manager, will aim to bring the success he had with the Dynamo to California. He led Houston to the MLS Cup in 2006 and in 2007, but he has yet to reach the playoffs with San Jose since his return.
However, a new General Manager, as well as some key roster turnover, could leave to another difficult season for San Jose.
New arrivals Nick Lima and Florian Jungwirth will both likely slot directly into the starting eleven against the Impact on Saturday, with Lima likely to be tasked with covering Ignacio Piatti.
Veteran centre-backs Clarence Goodson and Jordan Stewart are both no longer with the club, which will leave the organizing to Victor Bernardez.
The midfield is the Eartquakes’ strength, with Anibal Godoy and Fatai Alashe lined up in the centre, as well as Designated Player Simon Dawkins on the wing.
Academy product Tommy Thompson could see time off the bench, as well as another new midfielder Jahmir Hyka.
Chris Wondolowski will lead the line for San Jose. The ever-dangerous forward remains the team’s biggest goal scoring threat, and he will be joined either by MLS veterean Quincy Amarikwa, or a newcomer in Danny Hoesen or Marco Ureña.
Overall, this team has gone over a complete makeover in the offseason, which could lead to a rough product on the field on Saturday night.
The team is likely to operate in a classic 4-4-2, a formation that best suits Wondolowski up top. Kinnear-coached teams usually tend to sit back and wait to attack on the counter, and this trait could be emphasized by the lack of chemistry early in the season.
It will be key for the Impact to try and hold some possession well, and not allow San Jose to get in a rhythm. Piatti should be given enough time and space to attack in isolation.
If that happens, it will be difficult for a new-look San Jose back line to cope.