Yallop shakes up Quakes' lineup

McDonald, Gjertsen among key changes heading to Chicago

Earthquakes coach Frank Yallop was
less than overjoyed that he constantly had to juggle lineups last season
because of his team’s injuries.

This time, San Jose’s multiple
changes from its previous match are almost entirely Yallop’s idea.

After a disappointing defeat to Real
Salt Lake to open the season, Yallop appears set to make three alterations to
his starting XI when the Earthquakes face the Chicago Fire on Saturday, with a
knock-on effect at a fourth position.

Based on the lineup he used in a
scrimmage against Santa Clara University on Tuesday night and again in a training session
on Wednesday, Brandon McDonald will start at a central midfield spot and Joey
Gjertsen will open at right half. To accommodate Gjertsen, Arturo Alvarez will
bump up to the frontline alongside Ryan Johnson.

Javier Robles and Cornell Glen are
the odd men out.

In addition, Steve Beitashour will
debut at right back, although that’s because Chris Leitch is unavailable due to
suspension.

The McDonald move has the best
chance to be a permanent one. Yallop put McDonald into the lineup at halftime
of the season-opening 3-0 loss to Real Salt Lake, and if not for a muscle strain behind his right knee
suffered while training with the U.S. national team in January, McDonald could
easily have opened the season on the field.

The Earthquakes split central
midfield duties fairly evenly when Robles and André Luiz started against RSL,
but the defending champions turned out to be dominant in terms of possession.
With McDonald in, the Quakes can use more of an offense-defense pairing, with André Luiz creating and McDonald in a holding role.

“They wanted more bite in the midfield,
wanted it to be my role to sit in front of the back line and clean up, kind of
be the garbage man,” McDonald said. “I like being hard-nosed, getting tackles
that set the tone for our team. Every team’s got to have that kind of guy to
come in and get the tackles done.”

Yallop said he plans on using
Eduardo as a second-half substitute up front. The Brazilian forward has been
troubled by a hip strain, but looked much improved in training this week.

One player who will not be used is returning
forward Scott Sealy. The paperwork cementing the Trinidadian’s return has not been fully
processed by the league, but even if his re-signing was official, he still
needs to get back into match shape.

Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes
for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at sanjosequakes@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter at
@sjquakes.