Earthquakes-FC Dallas Preview
Chris Wondolowski and the surging San Jose Earthquakes have stepped it up over the last six weeks to improve their playoff hopes.
Beating FC Dallas on Saturday night would put the club in a much better position.
Seeking a fifth victory in six games, road-challenged San Jose tries to draw even with Dallas in the highly competitive Western Conference.
While the Earthquakes (9-10-6) posted five wins in their first 20 league matches, they have outscored opponents 6-3 during a 4-1-0 stretch. Wondolowski has recorded half that total by himself, and he scored in a 1-0 victory over Sporting Kansas City on Sunday.
"We know that if Wondo gets a few chances, he will bury one and win the game," interim coach Mark Watson said.
After pulling out its fifth straight home victory, San Jose is hoping to see its success carry over on the road. The Earthquakes have dropped a season-worst five in a row in opposing stadiums, failing to score in their last three.
They've been outscored 25-7 in going 1-11-2 in all road games.
"We've done great all season protecting our home field, but I think we need to prove that we can get three points on the road," defender Steven Beitashour said. "We only have one win away from home this season so we have to make sure that we fight, battle and get a result."
In eighth place in the West with 33 points, San Jose is three away from moving into a three-way tie with Vancouver and Dallas (9-7-9) for the conference's fifth and final playoff berth. San Jose scored 11 goals during a 3-0-2 stretch in this series over the previous two seasons before falling 1-0 at Dallas on May 25.
Dallas, which went 0-5-6 in its next 11 matches, finally picked up three points in a 3-1 road win over Chivas USA on Wednesday. Blas Perez tied the game with his ninth goal in the 71st minute, and David Ferreira and Ramon Nunez also scored.
"I don't think we're in that position where we can get just a point. We have to fight for three," coach Schellas Hyndman told the league's official website. "Getting this win, we're hoping that more and more positive things will keep coming to us."
Another high-scoring effort could be hard to come by against the Earthquakes' Jon Busch, who earned his 100th MLS win with his third clean sheet in five games last weekend.
"It takes a long time to get a 100 wins as a goalkeeper or a coach in this league," Watson said. "It is a testament to his quality over time. He is an incredible professional and he works harder than any person I have ever seen so he really deserves it. We are lucky to have him."
Busch has made 29 saves and surrendered just four goals in seven career games in Dallas.