Yallop Shakes up Quakes Lineup

Brandon McDonald, Joey Gjertsen expected to start against Chicago Fire

Brandon McDonald 032010_John Todd

Photo Credit: 
John Todd

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 Fire on Saturday , with a knock-on effect at a
fourth position.

Based on the lineup he used in a scrimmage
against Santa Clara 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 3-0 loss to RSL, 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 Andre 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 Andre 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 Sealy’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.