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Oppo Research: 5 Things about San Jose Earthquakes

Jamon Moore of Quakes Epicenter tells us about San Jose's defensive struggles, Cristian Espinoza's creativity in the midfield, and why Yankee Stadium could benefit San Jose.

Cristian Espinoza is one good passer. | Courtesy of Maciek Gudrymowicz / Getty Images / ISI Photos

In this edition of Oppo Research, Hudson River Blue spoke with Jamon Moore of Quakes Epicenter to learn more about San Jose Earthquakes, New York City FC's opponent on Saturday. Here is your NYCFC vs San Jose preview.

1. San Jose score, are outscored

Hudson River Blue: After making the playoffs last year, San Jose has struggled this season. San Jose lost Cade Cowell, Jonathan Mensah, and Jamiro Monteiro, but also brought in some new signings. What are the vibes like in the seats at PayPal Park?

Jamon Moore: The crowd is a bit down as the Earthquakes continue to fail to get results at home, going 1-4-1 at PayPal Park – and 2-4-1 including the Levi's Stadium game against LAFC. Despite getting over 3 xG against Austin last Saturday, they only managed one goal and a 1-1 draw. That's the type of bad luck the Quakes have had all season. On the road, they are scoring goals like they never have before away from home, but they also keep getting outscored.

That said, overall the attack has been mostly clicking – and fans are excited about new DP signing Hernan Lopez – while the defense has not done well.

2. Midfield struggles = defensive struggles

HRB: San Jose has given up 34 goals as well as conceded six penalties, both of which are the most in MLS. What’s going on with the defense?

JM: Quite simply, the Quakes are at the bottom in goals against, because they are at or near the bottom in entries into the final third, penalty box, zone 14, and zone 17. The main cause for this is being rather porous in the central midfield around the middle third. However, when it rains it pours, and the Quakes are second-to-last in set-piece goals against with eight and last in penalties against with six (next closest is a six-way tie with three).

3. Cristian Espinoza = playmaker

HRB: Cristian Espinoza has had a solid start to the season, scoring two goals and providing eight assists in 15 games. What’s been working so well for him and how can he continue that throughout the season?

JM: Espinoza continues to flourish under Luchi Gonzalez, although his goal-scoring has dropped off from a team-high 13 goals in 2023. Espinoza leads MLS with the most crosses, so some of the success comes due to volume, and that he takes all the corner kicks. But there is an effectiveness to Espinoza's searching balls as he tends to put in the "smart" crosses, like cutbacks, until and unless the Quakes get desperate.

Cristian Espinoza with a perfect pass to Amahl Pellegrino for a goal against LAFC

4. The X-Factor: Yankee Stadium

HRB: What's the X-factor that could decide this game?

JM: Interestingly, the smaller confines of Yankee Stadium could compress the field enough for the Quakes to not allow as much defensive penetration, while allowing Hernan Lopez to work his magic in tight spaces and Espinoza to find those tighter windows. If the Quakes can be effective in winning the ball in central midfield or higher, they can score 2 or 3 to make the game tougher on the home side.

5. Predicted score, Starting XI

HRB: Prediction time: Starting XI? Final score?

JM: I see goals in this one, so a 2-2 score could flatter the visiting side.