Earthquakes aim to knock off Toluca in first leg of CCL quarterfinals series

San Jose Earthquakes (SJEarthquakes.com)

By FRANCO PANIZO

For the San Jose Earthquakes, there is no time to shake off the preseason cobwebs because a CONCACACAF Champions League bout awaits.

The Earthquakes may not have played in opening weekend of the 2014 MLS season because of a bye in the schedule, but that will not stop them from having the difficult task of hosting a Toluca side in midseason form in the opening leg of their Champions League quarterfinals series.

San Jose has the benefit of playing this match in front of their eager fans at Buck Shaw Stadium, but will need to try and avoid showing any offseason rust in their first game of the year. Another plus is that head coach Mark Watson should have nearly all of his regulars available for this, including a now healthy star striker in Chris Wondolowski and stout centerback Victor Bernardez (fellow central defender Clarence Goodson is suspended due to the red card he received in the final group stage match last year).

Mexican club opposition has never been easy for MLS teams, however, and this series should prove no different. Aside from being in the full swing of things in the Liga MX Clausura campaign, Toluca are currently one of the hottest teams in Mexico’s first division. They sit in second place in the league standings and have lost just once in their last fives matches.

The Earthquakes will need to be as close to their very best as possible in order to grab a result at home and give themselves a chance of advancing into the semifinals, a difficult proposition given that there will likely be some new pieces in the club’s starting lineup.

Whether it’s Brandon Barklage at right back or Jean-Baptiste Pierazzi in midfield, San Jose is going to have to limit any chemistry issues while staying true to the rough-and-tumble style that they have so effectively adopted and deployed in recent years. Grabbing a late goal as they have done so often the past couple of seasons surely would not hurt either.

The Earthquakes might be far from favorites in this series and in the tournament in general, but they always seem to kick things up a notch when playing in the underdog role. The stakes are indeed higher and San Jose has yet to play in a match this season, but Toluca should not count the Earthquakes out regardless of how futile MLS clubs have largely been in this competition.

After all, San Jose has repeatedly shown a habit for beaten the odds.

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How do you see the Earthquakes faring vs. Toluca? Think it will be difficult for San Jose given that it is the club’s first game of the year? What is the key to the match/series?

Share your thoughts below.

This entry was posted in CONCACAF, CONCACAF Champions League, Featured, Major League Soccer, MLS- San Jose Earthquakes. Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Earthquakes aim to knock off Toluca in first leg of CCL quarterfinals series

  1. Neruda says:

    It would be good to see SJ win but it won’t happen. They need to score at least two, make that three to have a chance in the away leg. On the bright side this weekends mls match between SJ and RSL will feature some some reserves for SJ so RSL should be able to take another road win.

  2. Relegate US says:

    Would love to be able to still watch these games on Fox Soccer Channel. What a loss for American soccer fans.

    Nobody has Fox Sports 2.

  3. euroman says:

    Goodson serving RC suspension tonight.

  4. Audrel says:

    Toluca has said that CCL is their priority which means it’s all over for MLS teams.

    • XYZ says:

      The coach has said he will split up the team between CCL and the league, so I dont think CCL is top priority

  5. whoop-whoop says:

    MLS salary cap and lack of depth already hurts… as that improves, so will their chances. BUT, until something is done with scheduling so MLS isn’t facing mid season form MX teams while they are just getting up and running, it will be awfully tough to win this thing.

  6. patrick says:

    I’m sure I missed something, but why are they wearing red?

    • Rory Miller says:

      Because an unrelated team from a failed league in the 1970′s that nearly destroyed soccer’s chance to survive in America once wore red. This is how things are done by desperate owners trying to paper over their own deficiencies by appealing some sort of history that isn’t theirs.

      • cabrito says:

        The team that nearly destroyed soccer’s chance survive in America, didn’t wear red. They wore green and white and now play in the second division (today’s NASL).

        You probably weren’t around back then, Bieber, so watch the movie “Once in a Lifetime” for a history lesson.

      • Neruda says:

        That about sums it up. I was a fan of the clash during mls 1.0 but they ditched the name. Clash wa a hokey name but just embrace the cheese and put out the best team you can. Like RSL does.

      • Cliff says:

        Actually dude, it’s because MLS and the Quakes want to make money. Every sports league in the world, along with their kit-manufacturing partners, put out new jerseys and alternate jerseys every year to get us to spend money. No biggie.

  7. NASL to El Paso tx says:

    Earthquakes, skc and galaxy are in big trouble but galaxy has the best chance since Tijuana is having a bad year.
    Earthquakes and skc are going to face probably the best 2 teams in ligaMX :( and MLS teams open, not close……good luck MLS teams.
    God, only if MLS had a bigger cap and better coaches, coaches with experience can take u to soccer promise land.

  8. Cliff says:

    Why does every MLS-related story have to turn in to a referendum on MLS and American soccer? Chill with the inferiority complex.