Whitecaps FC-Earthquakes Preview

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San Jose Earthquakes head coach Matias Almeyda expressed his pride in his side playing for honor as it prepares to host Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday.

San Jose sits virtually out of reach of the playoffs in 10th place in the Western Conference, though it did crush Austin FC 4-0 last time out to keep its slim hopes alive for the time being.

A 10-game unbeaten run which ended in August did spark playoff hopes, but Almeyda is still pleased with his players working hard despite seemingly having nothing to play for.

“When the team plays well, everyone plays well, even the guys who came off the bench,” Almeyda began after defeating Austin. “I think if we were able to maintain this consistency, intensity and style, surely our outlook would be different. It makes me happy for the young players. They showed they go for more even in a complicated present. I asked them to play for honor and they did that.”

The Whitecaps sit seventh in the Western Conference standings after battling past the Portland Timbers 3-2 on Wednesday. Vancouver has collected 32 points in its last 18 games after picking up nine from its first 12.

Sartini, appointed in August, has collected 20 points from his 10 games in temporary charge, though forward Brian White insists his side is taking its playoff push game-by-game.

“We want to take it day by day, game by game,” White said. “So we’re looking to get three points every time we’re on the field and I think the team has great belief in that no matter who we go up against, no matter where we’re playing, that we can come out and put in a good performance.

“If we stick to the tactics, stick to the system, and believe in everyone on the field. I think that’s a strong feeling among the group.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

San Jose Earthquakes – Chris Wondolowski

Wondolowski scored his third goal of the season last time out and 169th of his MLS career. Along with two post-season goals, he now has 171 combined regular season and playoff goals, surpassing Landon Donovan (170) for most all-time.

Vancouver Whitecaps FC – Brian White

White presence has bolstered the Whitecaps’ attack by tallying 10 goals in his last 12 games, including a hat-trick against San Jose on October 3. Overall, he has found the back of the net 11 times in 19 games.

KEY OPTA FACTS

– The Whitecaps have managed just one win in 13 all-time away matches against San Jose (D7 L5), a 3-2 victory in August 2018. Vancouver did manage a point in its last visit, a scoreless draw on August 13.

– San Jose scored four times in the second half against Austin on Wednesday, the first time the Earthquakes have scored four goals in any half since a four-goal second half against Chicago in July 2014. Chris Wondolowski, who scored in the 59th minute on Wednesday, scored in the 62nd minute of the match against the Fire in 2014.

– The Whitecaps came from 2-0 down to beat the Timbers, 3-2, in Portland on Wednesday. It was the second time in club history Vancouver has overcome a two-goal deficit to win a road match, also doing so at San Jose in August 2018.

– Wondolowski, who scored against Austin on Wednesday, has scored 14 goals against the Whitecaps, more than against any other team in his MLS career. No player has scored more goals against a single opponent than Wondolowski against Vancouver since the Whitecaps joined MLS in 2011.

– Brian White scored in Vancouver’s comeback win over Portland, his 12th goal contribution since mid-August (10 goals, 2 assists). He is with Cristian Arango (11 goals, 1 assist) for the most goal involvements in MLS in that time.

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