Quakes gear up for U.S. Open Cup match in SF 

click to enlarge Shea Salinas and the Earthquakes will host Sacramento Republic FC on Wednesday night at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco. - BEN MARGOT/AP FILE PHOTO
  • Ben Margot/AP file photo
  • Shea Salinas and the Earthquakes will host Sacramento Republic FC on Wednesday night at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco.

The Earthquakes make the trip to Kezar Stadium on Wednesday night to face Sacramento Republic FC in the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup.

A different stadium with different dimensions will affect tactics, according to San Jose coach Mark Watson.

"Buck Shaw [the Quakes' stadium] has a field that's 75 yards wide, and Kezar is roughly 70 yards wide," Watson said. "Tighter confines will mean less time on the ball -- it allows defenders to close down space a bit quicker."

Added Quakes winger Shea Salinas, "We like to press high and defend hard, so I think [the smaller field] should play into our advantage. It will be more difficult when we have possession, since we like to get the ball wide and run at defenders."

The Quakes are coming off a 1-0 road defeat to Toronto FC on Saturday, a match in which they were missing five starters. Since early May, Chris Wondolowski and Victor Bernardez have been away for World Cup preparations with the U.S. and Honduras, respectively. Khari Stephenson, Yannick Djalo and Atiba Harris missed the Toronto game due to injury.

Now begins a three-week World Cup break in MLS -- San Jose's next league game is on June 28 -- which will allow Watson to pick a stronger side on Wednesday night.

"One of the issues with the Open Cup normally is that you're playing midweek between two league games," Watson said. "You're always trying to manage the squad and keep guys fresh. That won't be as big an issue this time."

This marks the Quakes' 10th appearance in the U.S. Open Cup, which is in its 101st year and is open to all professional and amateur teams associated with U.S. Soccer. The competition's winner takes home a $250,000 prize and seals qualification into the CONCACAF Champions League, North America's most prestigious club competition.

Sacramento Republic enters Wednesday on a six-match winning streak, helping them to a 6-3-2 record, good for fourth place in the USL Pro standings. As an Earthquakes affiliate, Sacramento has featured several San Jose players in games this season.

Salinas isn't too familiar with Sacramento, but he did know of its coach, Predrag Radosavljevi, a former U.S. national team member known best by his nickname of "Preki."

"He's a hard-nosed coach, and he likes his players to be fit," Salinas said. "This is a big game, and we know that Sacramento won't take it lightly."

Earthquakes vs. Sacramento Rep. FC

WHAT: U.S. Open Cup match

WHEN: Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.

WHERE: Kezar Stadium

INFO: www.sjearthquakes.com

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Matthew Snyder

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