When the Earthquakes take the field against Monterrey on Saturday afternoon, the opposition won’t be the only one sporting plenty of fresh faces to fans in San Jose.
The Quakes regular starting XI, or at least what has been Matias Almeyda’s first-choice XI thus far, will not be continuing into Saturday. Eight (!) Quakes players are away on international duty, including Nick Lima (USA), Anibal Godoy and Harold Cummings (Panama), Marcos Lopez (Peru), Vako and Guram Kashia (Georgia), and JT Marcinkowski and Jackson Yueill (USA U-23).
Of the eight players competing internationally, six have started at least two matches this season, with five starting all three to date. It also includes San Jose’s entire back-four of Lopez, Kashia, Cummings and Lima.
What this translates to is minutes for new players to impress the coaching staff in front of the home crowd at Avaya Stadium. We won’t know specifically who will start, but you can bet much of the team’s core of young players will see the pitch, including midfielders Eric Calvillo, Gilbert Fuentes, Siad Haji and Luis Felipe, forward Cade Cowell and defender Paul Marie.
They won’t be given an easy task, however, as Monterrey is one of the top teams in all of Concacaf. Los Rayados are currently ranked third in Liga MX with a 6-1-4 record and are one of four teams remaining in Concacaf Champions League. They recently dispatched the reigning MLS Cup champions Atlanta United FC 3-1 on aggregate and will now face Sporting KC next month.