Competition: Major League Soccer – San Jose Earthquakes vs. Colorado Rapids
Venue: Avaya Stadium – Sunday, March 6 – 15:00 ET (20:00 GMT)
Match Odds: San Jose 19/20 – Draw 9/4 – Colorado 16/5
San Jose Earthquakes host Colorado Rapids in an intriguing 2016 MLS opener on Sunday, as two sides that struggled last term will look to get off to a flying start by immediately moving in front of the other.
San Jose came close to making the playoffs in 2015 but ultimately had to settle for a seventh-place finish in the West. They did finish ten points ahead of Colorado, who disappointingly ended the campaign at the foot of the conference.
Both sides will enter the new year hoping for better and meeting in the season opener gives both teams the chance to lay out an early marker for success in what looks set to be a close game.
San Jose won the last three games of their preseason preparations and will hope to keep that momentum going into the new season. They lost 1-0 at Dallas in last year’s opener but have a much better chance of sealing three points this time around.
Colorado, meanwhile, had to wait five games for their first victory of 2015 and will hope to get off the mark quicker this term.
Pablo Mastroeni has made some key changes to the squad over the offseason, with some talented playmakers joining the club. He will hope they hit the ground running to give Irish striker Kevin Doyle some much-needed service up top.
These two sides met twice last year in two low-scoring affairs. They drew 1-1 in Colorado, before San Jose sealed a 1-0 home win over the Rapids in August. Another close encounter is expected on Sunday.
San Jose enter the new season without Marc Pelosi, who will be out for some time with a serious knee injury. While they will also have to start without star playmaker Matias Perez Garcia, who will serve a one-game suspension for the red card picked up on the final day of the 2015 season. Innocent Emeghara is back from injury but may start on the bench, though new signing Simon Dawkins should start the game.
Colorado have no injury concerns heading into the new season and so Pablo Mastroeni has a full squad to choose from. New signings Marco Pappa, Shkelzen Gashi and Mekeil Williams will all expect to start. Kevin Doyle should lead the attack.
San Jose Earthquakes’ preseason form: W/W/L/L/W/L/W/W/W
Colorado Rapids’ preseason form: W/W/L/D/L/W
Key Stat: San Jose are unbeaten in 12 MLS games against Colorado (W6 D6).
Key Player: Chris Wondolowski – The San Jose talisman so often delivers when it matters most and he will be desperate to drive his team onto an opening day win against Western Conference rivals here. Whether he plays upfront or in midfield, he will expect to influence the game in a positive way for the Quakes.
San Jose Earthquakes 2-1 Colorado Rapids – San Jose enjoyed a more promising preseason campaign than the Rapids and should make home advantage count against a team they haven’t lost to since 2011. This should be a close game, and both teams will expect to find the net, but the Quakes look more likely to go on and win it and will look to get 2016 off to a flying start in front of their own fans.