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Matias Almeyda believes the hard work could finally be reaping rewards for San Jose Earthquakes as they look to pick up back-to-back wins when traveling to Portland Timbers on Wednesday.

Following a run of four successive draws, the Quakes picked up a surprise victory at Western Conference leaders Seattle Sounders through Cristian Espinoza’s goal just before half-time.

That was San Jose’s first win since May 7, an 11-game winless run that had seen the pressure grow on Almeyda, but the Argentinian hopes the results will now begin to match his side’s performances.

“The team is now a lot more compact,” he said. “When we were losing so many games in a row, there were matches in which we played well.

“Obviously, the results weren’t what we expected. We believe in hard work, humility, and desire. When you believe in your work and virtue, sooner or later the sun will shine.”

Almeyda’s opposite number Giovanni Savarese will certainly be hoping for a change of mood on the back of defeats to Minnesota United and LA Galaxy.

A 4-1 loss to the latter saw the Timbers drop out of the playoff spots and, having shipped the third-most goals in the conference, Savarese has called for an improvement.

“There are definitely many things we can improve in the defensive area,” he said. “There were many things against Galaxy that could have been better.

“We still need to work. We need to continue doing that if we are to become better. We need to set our standard, which we didn’t manage after 30 minutes in the last game.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Portland Timbers – Jeremy Ebobisse

The one positive to come out of Portland’s defeat to Galaxy was the link-up play between Yimmi Chara and Ebobisse for their temporary leveler, which the latter took brilliantly. Indeed, Ebobisse now has four goals in his last seven appearances. He was a last-minute starter in place of Felipe Mora in that most recent match but should get the nod here.

San Jose Earthquakes – JT Marcinkowski

Not many teams have managed to keep Seattle Sounders’ attacking talents quiet this season, but the Quakes managed just that thanks in part to goalkeeper Marcinkowski. The 24-year-old doubled his shutout count for the season and has not conceded more than one goal in four straight games. He is also the youngest keeper in MLS with at least 10 starts this term.

KEY OPTA FACTS

– The Timbers have won eight straight home matches against San Jose, tied for the longest active home winning streak against a single opponent in MLS (also Philadelphia Union v D.C. United). The run also ties Portland’s longest-ever home winning streak against a single opponent after winning eight home matches in a row against Colorado Rapids from August 2012 to September 2018.

– The Timbers have lost four of their last six matches, including the last two in a row. This is the third time this season Portland have dropped consecutive matches, though the Timbers have not lost three straight since a five-match losing streak in March-April 2019.

– San Jose recorded a 1-0 victory at Seattle on Saturday and will try to become the second team in MLS history to win at Seattle and Portland in consecutive weeks after CF Montreal did so in its first two matches of the 2013 season.

– Two of the four goals the Galaxy scored against Portland on Friday night came on set-pieces (one corner, one penalty). The Timbers have conceded an MLS-high 13 set-piece goals this season, accounting for half of the 26 goals that they have allowed in 2021.

– No player in MLS has been fouled more than Eric Remedi this season (64 times). Remedi is also tied for the fifth-most fouls committed in the league with 32. Overall, the 96 fouls that Remedi has been involved in are over 20 more than any other player in MLS in 2021.

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