Columbus Crew SC has scored as many goals in its previous four matches (10) as this Saturday’s opponent through the entire season: the San Jose Earthquakes. But don’t let that fool you. The Quakes stand at 4-4-2, good for fourth place in the Western Conference, and they got there the hard way.
San Jose has scored one goal or less in seven matches this season, which has been the case in every game since March 14. But the team grinds out wins with a system that relies heavily on direct, short passes and having extra bodies available in the defensive third.
All four of San Jose’s wins have come by a margin of one goal. Actually, all but one of its matches have finished with a goal differential less than or equal to one.
So, where’s the Quakes’ offense? Mostly injured.
Forwards Steven Lenhart and Mark Sherrod have been held out of action all season due to injury, and forward Innocent was sidelined for four to six months last week after tearing the meniscus in his left knee. That leaves U.S. Men's National Team player Chris Wondolowski to carry the load, which he has done considerably with five goals and 28 shots on the season.
No other San Jose player has registered more than one goal or 13 shots this year. The team ranks 13th in Major League Soccer in shots attempted with 110 for an average of 11 per match. Meanwhile, goalkeeper David Bingham has faced a league-high 45 shots on goal.
Fortunately for San Jose, Bingham has excelled. He ranks third in saves with 33, and amongst goalkeepers with at least nine games played his goals-against average of 1.10 ranks seventh and his save percentage of 73 ranks fourth.
If the series between these two sides is any indication, another goalkeeper showcase could be in store. Four of the last five matches between the two sides have resulted in 1-1 or 0-0 draws. As for Crew SC, the goal is to capture three points during a road match for the first time this year.
Kick-off for Crew SC’s first match at new Avaya Stadium is set for 10:30 p.m. ET. Catch the action on TimeWarner Cable SportsChannel, CD 102.5 or La Mega 103.1. Also, follow Crew SC on Twitter for detailed match updates.
San Jose Earthquakes Quick Facts:
Regular Season Record: 4-4-2
Western Conference Rank: 4
Home Record: 2-1-0
Goals For: 10
Goals Against: 11
Current Run: Undefeated in three matches
Last Match: 1-1 draw at Colorado Rapids