2016 MLS Season Preview: San Jose Earthquakes

As the 2016 MLS season edges ever closer, we’ll be publishing each team’s MLS 2016 Season Preview. Today we take a look at what the San Jose Earthquakes could achieve this season.

The 2015 season saw San Jose Earthquakes move into their new Avaya Stadium but unfortunately, they were unable to make the postseason once again. It was a season of some fantastic highs but the ultimate low was missing out on the playoffs for a second-straight season – something head coach Dominic Kinnear will be desperate to fix. The Quakes finished four points behind sixth-placed Sporting Kansas City in the end, but ended relatively well and should push on this term. The loss of DP forward Innocent Emeghara was a bitter pill to swallow early in the season, but he should be back and will look to score the goals to fire San Jose into a playoff berth. Victories away at the likes of Seattle, SKC and DC United showed they could cope with the league’s best but they need to make that form last longer. Dominic Kinnear knows the formula to win MLS Cup, having won it twice with Houston Dynamo in 2006 and 2007 and he would love to lift the title with San Jose come the end of the 2016 season.

Last Season’s Finish:

Western Conference – Position: 7th – P34 – W13 – D8 – L13

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What Needs To Change This Year?

San Jose must improve their away form, following ten defeats on the road in 2015. That’s just not good enough if you are looking to make the top six. Despite boasting the third-best defensive record in MLS last term, their offensive play let them down. They ranked third from bottom in terms of goal output, having netted just 41 times. More goals will lead to more success. Chris Wondolowski knows how to score goals and he keeps on getting them, having now reached over 100 in MLS – being the fastest to achieve this feat. But the rest of the squad need to chip in with their fair share to ease the burden on the American. Chad Barrett has come in from Seattle Sounders and will look to help, while Simon Dawkins will be tasked with getting assists. It has potential to be an enormous season for the Quakes if they can learn from last year’s deficiencies.

Key Changes:

Ins: Chad Barrett – Forward, Simon Dawkins – Midfielder, Andres Imperiale – Defender, Andrew Tarbell – Goalkeeper & Alberto Quintero – Midfielder

Outs: Mike Fucito  Forward, Jean-Baptiste Pierazzi  Midfielder, Khari Stephenson – Midfielder, Paulo Renato – Defender, Tomas Gomez – Goalkeeper, Leandro Barrera – Midfielder

Key Player:

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Innocent Emeghara – Forward – The Swiss striker will feel like a new signing for San Jose, having only made seven appearances last season before his season-ending knee injury. With 76 goals scored in his professional career, he will look to put the Earthquakes back on the map and into the playoff picture as he looks to win his first major honour. If he can stay healthy, he could prove to be one of the league’s deadliest strikers in 2016.

One to Watch:

Simon Dawkins – Midfielder – The ex-Tottenham Hotspur midfielder has returned back to San Jose, having won the Supporters’ Shield with the club back in 2012. He could be the lucky omen that gets the Quakes into the playoffs once again and will hope to shine on his return to MLS. He has more than 50 MLS games under his belt and that experience should help Dawkins to settle straight back into the league. It’s now time for the 28-year-old to flourish again.

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Predicted Finish:

Western Conference – 6th  This time round we expect the Quakes to make the playoffs. They are a team that is battling in a very tight and competitive Western Conference but they had the third-best defence in MLS last term and have strengthened this offseason. Chris Wondolowski will get goals, as will the likes of Quincy Amarikwa and Innocent. They have a fine manager in Dominic Kinnear, who knows the league inside out and things look good for the Quakes. The teams around them have done some very good business and San Jose will struggle to challenge high up the standings, but they should be able to secure a top six finish. Here’s to what could be a great season in San Jose, California.

What are you expecting from San Jose Earthquakes in 2016?

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Gallery: Exclusive photos from the Sounders’ dramatic draw with the Galaxy

CenturyLink Field hosted the latest installment in the rivalry between the Seattle Sounders and the LA Galaxy on Sunday night in what was another key Western Conference clash.

The Sounders rallied to earn a deserved point in stoppage time thanks to a Chad Barrett goal, and although the Galaxy were disappointed not to have held on to the win, they will be pleased they sealed a playoff spot with the point.

Robbie Keane netted his 17th goal of the season to give the Galaxy the lead but in the end the shares were spoiled in what was an entertaining affair.

Check out the photos from the game below, taken by photographer Denise McCooey.

Seattle Sounders vs LA Galaxy Seattle Sounders vs LA Galaxy Seattle Sounders vs LA Galaxy Seattle Sounders vs LA Galaxy Seattle Sounders vs LA Galaxy Robbie Keane Seattle Sounders vs LA Galaxy Seattle Sounders vs LA Galaxy Seattle Sounders vs LA Galaxy Chad Barrett Seattle Sounders vs LA Galaxy Brad Evans

MLS Preview and Prediction: Seattle Sounders vs Colorado Rapids

Competition: Major League Soccer – Seattle Sounders vs. Colorado Rapids

Venue: CenturyLink Field – Saturday, July 18 – 22:00 ET (03:00 BST)

Match Odds: Seattle Sounders 11/10 – Draw 9/4 – Colorado Rapids 13/5

Match Preview

Seattle Sounders face Colorado Rapids for the third time this season as the Sounders look to get back to winning ways after this loss last week away at Chicago Fire. While the Rapids will look to not end up on the receiving end of a third loss to the hosts this term.

Seattle may be sitting at the top of the Western Conference but they have been less than convincing since Clint Dempsey picked up his red card in the US Open Cup. One win in their last five in MLS has seen the mighty fall greatly in terms of performances and results.

Seattle are on level points with second placed sides FC Dallas and Vancouver Whitecaps with first and sixth place in the Western separated by just two points.

Photo: Denise McCooey

Photo: Denise McCooey

With Obafemi Martins also injured for this one, Chad Barrett will likely earn another start and fill in for the Nigerian who is expected to be out for a number of weeks.

With six games left at home, the Sounders need home comforts to sustain their position in the playoff places as failure to make the top six would be seen as a major disappointment from the supporters’ perspective.

Last weekend saw Colorado Rapids pick up a 3-1 victory over Rocky Mountain Cup rivals Real Salt Lake in a compelling match down at the lower end of the Western.

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Colorado are still nine points away from the playoff places as it looks as though several draws and failure to win matches is what will cost the Rapids a precious spot in the top six come the end of the regular season.

In their back-to-back wins coming into this one, they scored five goals with five different players getting on the scoresheet.

They will now look to win in Seattle for a first time. That will be no easy achievement as the Sounders have won nine of the last ten home games between the two.

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The previous fixture saw Seattle Sounders win 1-0 at CenturyLink Field, compliments of a Marco Pappa goal, while the meeting in Colorado ended 3-1 to last year’s Supporters’ Shield champions.

Team News

Seattle Sounders will miss Obafemi Martins (adductor) Andres Correa could be brought back and also Stefen Frei.  The Sounders will also miss Marco Pappa, Brad Evans and Clint Dempsey due to playing in the Gold Cup

Colorado Rapids will be without Luis Solignac (hamstring), but could welcome back both Axel Sjoberg and Dillon Serna. Bobby Burling will miss out due to suspension. Gabriel Torres is away on international duty.

Key Points

Seattle Sounders last five in MLS: L/L/L/W/L

Colorado Rapids last five in MLS: D/L/L/W/W

Key Stat: Although they are at opposite ends of the table, both sides have conceded 29 goals so far this term.

Key Player: Chad Barrett – The 30-year-old attacker has three goals this season. When Martins and Dempsey have been missing, he has shown he has got talent to find the back of the net and he has the task of getting the goals to break down a resilient Colorado Rapids defence on Saturday night.

Seattle Sounders Chad Barrett

Score Prediction

Seattle Sounders 2-0 Colorado Rapids – History suggests Seattle will be comfortable winners, which is likely seeing as they have more star quality in the side. Even with injuries and international absentees affecting them, the Sounders still look stronger. Home win.

MLS Fantasy Tips: Gameweek 13 Picks

Gameweek 13 of the MLS season is just around the corner and so it’s time to quickly assess your MLS Fantasy options ahead of what is a hectic round of fixtures.

Six clubs have a Double Gameweek this time around with Colorado Rapids, DC United, LA Galaxy, Portland Timbers, Real Salt Lake and Seattle Sounders all playing twice over the course of the next five days.

Here are the three picks we recommend for the upcoming round of fixtures:

Chad Barrett  – Forward (Seattle Sounders) – $6.7m

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The Sounders frontman has been a worthy replacement for the injured Obafemi Martins in the past couple of weeks and has bagged two goals in his last two starts.

With the Sounders playing twice at home this week, Barrett is a cheaper option than most of his teammates at just $6.7m and should be strongly considered.

Cyle Larin – Forward (Orlando City) – $5.9m

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Cyle Larin is the out-and-out striker for Orlando at the moment and his pace makes him a constant threat.

Orlando play Columbus Crew at the Citrus Bowl this weekend, who are not as strong away from home, so at $5.9m, Larin is a pick many be looking at if they don’t already have him.

Kevin Doyle – Forward (Colorado Rapids) – $8.0m 

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Irish international Doyle is a poacher worth putting in the side but the price may be off-putting at $8.0m, considering he is unproven in MLS.

However, Doyle is known for being a nuisance in the box and could cause both Seattle and Portland problems this week if he can get his first starts in those games.

Who are you putting in your MLS Fantasy team this week?

Seattle Sounders striker Chad Barrett likens team goal to Barcelona

Seattle Sounders striker Chad Barrett has hailed the build-up play by his fellow teammates for his second goal in their 2-0 MLS away win at Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday.

“People are like ‘there was 21 passes down there in the defensive half and all those passes don’t mean anything’. Barcelona does it and when they do it, it means something,” Barrett told the Seattle Sounders official YouTube channel.

“It was a beautiful play up to the goal to create that space. All those passes gave (Marco) Pappa that space and gave him the time to look up and find me.”

Barrett was brought into the side in the absence of Obafemi Martins and finished off a lovely move with a wonderful left-footed strike into the bottom corner for his second goal of the game.

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The 30-year-old feels that the style of play that led to that goal is one of the hardest things for other teams to defend against.

“I’ve been on the other side of that, everyone’s been on the other side of that. When they have the ball all the time, it’s like playing Real Madrid or Barcelona because they just don’t give up the ball.

“And when they do, you feel like you have to really protect the ball that much more because you don’t want to give it right back to them.”

Barrett believes Seattle’s possession play was one of the things that they did “really well” and that it’s a good way of grinding down the opponents.

“Our video today was pretty much all our possession and we had spells there when a couple of them were a minute long, a minute and thirty seconds long and that’s really deflating for another team.”

How good was Chad Barrett and his Seattle Sounders teammates against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday?

Seattle Sounders flex attacking muscles in 5-0 win over UCLA

The Seattle Sounders got their preseason preparations off to the perfect start with a 5-0 win against UCLA in California last night, with all four strikers that featured finding the net.

Head coach Sigi Schmid started with a strong lineup that included Stefan Frei, Tyrone Mears, Chad Marshall, Brad Evans, Marco Pappa and Gonzalo Pineda.

Obafemi Martins and Lamar Neagle partnered one and other up top and both got themselves on the scoresheet in the first 45 minutes.

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An entirely different team came out for the second-half as Schmid made eleven changes at the break but the performance levels didn’t drop as Seattle went on to score three more.

Second-half forwards Chad Barrett and Kenny Cooper both scored with midfielder Michael Azira finishing off the rout for last year’s MLS Supporters’ Shield winners.

“It’s always good when forwards score goals,” Sigi Schmid said after the game. “It always makes them happy but it was the quality of the goals that was important.”

The Sounders will stay in California until the end of the week, where they now look ahead to facing Western Conference rivals LA Galaxy on Friday.

Seattle will then travel out to Tucson, Arizona for the Desert Diamond Cup where they will play four matches to finalise preparations for the 2015 season which begins on March 6.

The Sounders take on the New England Revolution on the opening weekend on Sunday March 8.

Will the Seattle Sounders win the Western Conference again this year?

What did we learn as Seattle thumped Real Salt Lake?

Real Salt Lake lost their 12-game unbeaten after they were thrashed 4-0 by Seattle Sounders. Here are the key takeaways from the game:

1. The Seattle Sounders fans are brilliant!

Not only did we see a fine display of football from the home side, but we also saw how well they are supported once again.

There was a fantastic atmosphere at CenturyLink Field and of the bumper 39,205 crowd in attendance, the majority were bouncing with joy and created a great spectacle of noise and colour, which helped their team win their fifth home game on the bounce.

It certainly had the feel of a real high-intensity top of the table clash, which is great to see for the credibility of the league.

2. Chad Barrett is a title-winner.

The Seattle front-man was inspirational throughout.

He was subbed off after 67 minutes, but for every second he was on, his work-rate and link-up play with the midfield was excellent.

The goal he bagged himself was fully deserved to top off a fine performance and a great result for the team.

He could be the crucial difference between success and failure for the Sounders at the end of the season, and it is comforting for Seattle to see that they can cope without Dempsey.

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3. A step too far for Real Salt Lake.

Real Salt Lake were the only unbeaten side remaining in MLS this season when they came in to the game, but they were brought back down to earth with a real bump.

The impressive 12-game unbeaten run this campaign was completely blown out of the water after a comprehensive Seattle display.

Real Salt Lake showed rare glimpses of the side that hadn’t lost a game but they simply couldn’t deal with the intensity of the Sounders play, and missed their key players desperately.

Seattle were tearing them apart at regular intervals and Salt Lake cannot complain about being totally outplayed.

4. Marco Pappa – take a bow.

A quick mention must go to the Seattle midfielder, Marco Pappa after his stunning left footed free-kick.

He hit a wonderful effort up and over the wall with superb technique to bring up his first goal in a Sounders jersey.

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Highlights via MLS on YouTube:

Seattle and Vancouver share spoils in exciting Cascadia Cup showdown

The Seattle Sounders grabbed a late penalty to ensure that the points were shared in the Cascadia Cup meeting against the Vancouver Whitecaps at BC Place as an exciting game ended 2-2.

Inside the first 3 minutes, Gershon Koffie was already testing the Seattle goal but the effort was smartly dealt with at the near post by goalkeeper Stefan Frei.

Koffie was at the heart of the action soon after, when he struck a long range effort against the crossbar following a storming run towards the Sounders goal.

But against the run of play in the 35th minute, the home fans were left stunned when a cross from Kenny Cooper found Chad Barrett, who was making his first start for the club, and he nodded in a beautiful header for his second of the season.

However the Sounders lead was short lived when Erik Hurtado intercepted the ball inside his own half, passing the ball to Bowen who then found Chilean Moralez with a wonderful first-time ball back into Hurtado who dazzled Osvaldo Alonso, not once but twice.

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Hurtado then blasted past Frei and into the Sounders net from a tight angle, drawing the home side level at the 38th minute mark.

The 60th minute saw Manneh break free again, but he was denied once more  by the rushing Frei.

But five minutes later the Whitecaps took the lead, as Frei’s clearance from near the touchline fell to Koffie who chested the ball down, allowing a bounce before taking it on and volleying into an empty Seattle net from over 30 yards, sending BC Place into raptures.

Inside the last ten minutes the Sounders got the chance to equalize after Jay Demerit was unfortunately penalised for bashing into the back of Cam Weaver in the air.

With regular Sounders penalty taker Clint Dempsey away with the USMNT, it was up to Mexican Gonzalo Pineda to take it under serious pressure.

Pineda stepped up and coolly put the ball into the net, making it look easy with his chipped finish, bringing Seattle level going into the last ten minutes.

The goal seemed to inspire the Sounders as Obafemi Martins came charging towards the  Vancouver goal before striking the post, in an effort which would of surely won the game for the Sounders.

Six minutes added time were added on at the end of an exciting game and Vancouver went close to snatching the game in the  92nd minute, but Koffie’s effort was straight at Frei.

Both sides now move on with the Whitecaps carrying on their battle for the Cascadia Cup next week against Portland Timbers, whilst a top of the table clash between Seattle Sounders and Real Salt Lake takes place next Saturday.

Highlights via MLS on YouTube: