United FC-Earthquakes Preview

National Sports

Adrian Heath is looking forward to a “big week” as Minnesota United visit San Jose Earthquakes before hosting Sporting Kansas City.

Minnesota lost 1-0 at home to LA Galaxy at the weekend, slipping nine points behind their opponents, who are third in the Western Conference.

But the Loons, in fifth, have an opportunity to bounce back quickly, facing a swift trip to San Jose as they build towards the clash with Sporting KC, the leaders in the West.

Although there was little time to recover this week, coach Heath was looking to focus on the positives.

He said on Monday: “We got some light work in today, we travel today and play tomorrow, back on Wednesday and you’re preparing again for another big game against Sporting. It’s a big week for us.”

Of the Galaxy game, he said: “Overall, when I look back, there were a lot of positives. That’s what I’ve been speaking to the players about; yes, it’s a disappointment, but now we have to start another one.

“It’s not ideal on two days’ preparation to go to San Jose, who get after you at home the way they play. It’s going to be tough. I have every faith that we will be able to come again.”

The Quakes are in better spirits after an eight-game unbeaten run, which started against Minnesota.

In that time, they have beaten both Seattle Sounders and Los Angeles FC but still have work to do make the playoffs, sitting a point back in ninth.

“We have been recovering in terms of football,” coach Matias Almeyda said.

“There was a moment in which the team went through a bad streak and weren’t able to get points, and that set us further back from the playoff spots.

“We have two tough matches this week. We are thinking more about the game-to-game, rather than the playoffs. We want to play well and win.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

San Jose Earthquakes – Cade Cowell

Cowell was a substitute in the goalless draw with the Vancouver Whitecaps but still had the best chance of the entire game right at the death. He will be keen to make amends against Minnesota, surely back in the XI.

Minnesota United – Emanuel Reynoso

Minnesota need more quality from their creative star if they are to avoid another frustrating outing. Reynoso was involved in seven shots against the Galaxy – four attempts, three chances created – but none of those had an expected goals value of 0.1 or more.

KEY OPTA FACTS

– San Jose won their first four matches against Minnesota United in 2017-18 before the Loons won all four games in 2019-20, while the sides drew 2-2 on July 3 this season. There have been 38 goals scored in the nine meetings, averaging 4.2 goals per match.

– The Earthquakes are unbeaten in eight straight matches (W2 D6) for the first time since September 2013 to March 2014. The Quakes last went more than eight in a row without defeat in August to November 2012, going 10 in a row without a loss (including playoffs).

– Minnesota’s 1-0 loss to LA Galaxy on Saturday was their second loss in 14 matches (W7 D5). The Loons are tied with Nashville and New England for the fewest losses in MLS in that time (since May 12).

– San Jose have conceded a total of seven goals during their eight-match unbeaten run, including keeping a clean sheet against Vancouver Whitecaps on Friday. The Earthquakes allowed eight goals in their previous two matches, losses to Orlando City and LA Galaxy in late June.

– Minnesota failed to score despite attempting 21 shots against the Galaxy on Saturday. It was the most shots ever attempted by the Loons in an MLS match in which they did not score.

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