Better games from Rafa Márquez and Chris Wondolowski could be key to both teams' chances.
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New York vs. San Jose: What each team needs to do

What the Red Bulls need to do

What the Earthquakes need to do

Keep up the defensive excellence. The Red Bulls allowed the fewest goals over their last five regular-season games of any playoff team. They managed to shut down the top goal-scorer in MLS, holding Wondolowski to one shot on goal.

Give the Red Bulls someone other than Wondo to think about. Roy Miller’s failed read on a cross to Geovanni gifted him a one-on-one with New York ‘keeper Bouna Coundoul, and the Brazilian flat out missed it. Chris Wondolowski had 53 percent of the Quakes’ goals during the regular season; now someone has to step up and help the Golden Boot winner shoulder the load.

Get Rafa going. Rafa Márquez didn’t have a particularly good game. He recovered well to win the ball back for New York pretty consistently, but was uncharacteristically sloppy in his distribution. Rafa is critical to winning the midfield battle and continuing to deny Wondolowski service.

Get more shots. Coundoul was rightly praised for his stoppage-time save on Bobby Convey to keep New York ahead, but that was about all the RBNY ’keeper had to do on the night. Of San Jose’s 12 total shots, only three were on frame. That’s not enough, especially at home. The Quakes need to start firing away from distance.

Go for the kill. New York lead 1-0. A goalless draw would send them through, and the Quakes are 0-4-0 when trailing at halftime in the playoffs all-time. If the Quakes press too high, the speed of Dane Richards can kill on the counterattack. The Red Bulls can use that to their advantage, and save themselves from any type of nervy down-to-the-wire finish.

Stop NY from shooting. The Quakes have one of the best ‘keepers in postseason history in Jon Busch. He has recorded the eighth most shutouts in postseason history (5) and compiled the fourth best goals-allowed average (.82). But San Jose allowed the most shots on goal during the regular season of any playoff team, and allowed New York eight shots on frame. Asking Busch to post a shutout on that many shots is asking too much.

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