Crew hopes to break Earthquakes' toughness in trip to San Jose
The Crew travels to the Bay Area this weekend looking to rebound from last week's 2-0 loss at home to Toronto FC, but it will have to do so against a winless and gritty San Jose Earthquakes side that is starved for its first victory in 2014.
A season removed from winning the 2012 MLS Supporters' Shield, Gregg Berhalter expects a physical battle from San Jose's "Goonies."
"[San Jose] is a good team," the Crew Sporting Director and Head Coach said. "I think that we're all familiar with how they play. They're very aggressive physically. They're very good on set pieces. They're very good on crossed balls.
"It's going to be a good game, they're tough."
Midfielder Hector Jimenez has seen his fair share of the Earthquakes over his career, formerly playing for the rival LA Galaxy during his first three seasons in MLS. Like Berhalter, Jimenez is prepared for a 90-plus-minute battle with San Jose.
"Along the years, [San Jose] is a team that plays 90 minutes through," the midfielder said. "They're always down and then they come up. When they play at home, they're a tough team to beat. They have great forwards up top and it's not going to be an easy game."
He continued: "It's going to be a very physical game. From what I remember, they're a very physical team in the back. Hopefully we can move the ball around, spread them out and penetrate right down the middle."
A main ingredient in the Earthquakes success over the years has been the opportunistic scoring of forward Chris Wondolowski. With 74 goals over the past five seasons, including two already to his name in 2014, Wondolowski remains one of the League's top scoring threats.
Fortunately for the Crew, centerback and team Captain Michael Parkhurst has gotten a good read on Wondolowski's game from U.S. Men's National Team camps in January and earlier this month.
"He works his butt off, man," Parkhurst complimented his fellow National Teamer. "He's always there. He's always in the right spot at the right time because he works so hard. The ball seems to find him in the box all the time and he rarely misses inside the 18. He's a very good finisher. He just works extremely hard to get in behind you. He's always right there, always in a good spot.
"He'll be a handful on Sunday."
The Crew kicks-off against the Earthquakes at 3:00 p.m. ET on Sunday (UniMas/Time Warner Cable SportsChannel).