Earthquakes-Whitecaps FC Preview

Off to the best start in franchise history, the San Jose

Earthquakes continued their roll with their biggest offensive

output in eight years – and the league’s leading scorer feels like

his team’s MLS-best goal total should be even higher.

The way the Vancouver Whitecaps’ defense has slowed down

opponents lately, though, scoring multiple goals in a team-record

sixth consecutive match could be a challenge for the MLS leaders

Saturday at BC Place.

Getting two goals apiece from Chris Wondolowski and Steven

Lenhart, who had his second consecutive two-goal effort, the

Earthquakes (7-1-1) won their third in a row and extended their

point streak to seven with a 5-3 victory over D.C. on

Wednesday.

It was San Jose’s highest-scoring game since a 5-all draw with

New York/New Jersey on May 8, 2004.

“I’m a pretty harsh critic of myself and I think that I’ve left

some (goals) out there,” Wondolowski told the Earthquakes’ official

website. “So it reflects on the team, how well they’ve been

playing.”

Wondolowski has a league-high 10 goals and has accounted for

half of his club’s total.

The Earthquakes last earned points in eight straight games

during a 4-0-5 run July 12-Sept. 13, 2008. If they can defeat the

Whitecaps (4-2-2) for the second time this season, they would have

their first four-game winning streak since a team-best six-game run

Aug. 20-Sept. 21, 2005.

San Jose will face a Vancouver club that has recorded three

consecutive clean sheets in all competitions since back-to-back 3-1

losses to the Earthquakes and Kansas City last month.

The Whitecaps also feel good about their offense after French

striker Eric Hassli and Atiba Harris scored their first goals of

the season Wednesday, giving Vancouver a 2-0 victory over FC

Edmonton in the semifinals of the Amway Canadian Championship.

“I think that will be good for him,” coach Martin Rennie said of

Hassli, who has no goals in his last 17 MLS matches. ” … I think

it can give him a little bit more confidence. Goal scorers thrive

in scoring goals.”

If that’s the case, Whitecaps goalkeeper Joe Cannon, a member of

the Earthquakes’ MLS Cup-winning team in 2001, could be in for

another challenging 90 minutes versus San Jose. Wondolowski scored

a pair of goals past Cannon on April 7 in that 3-1 win in Santa

Clara, with the first score ending the Whitecaps’ shutout streak at

427 minutes – a league record to start the season.

Wondolowski has five of San Jose’s six goals in the three

matches between these clubs.

The Earthquakes’ Jon Busch, 1-0-2 in those contests after making

five saves last month, has surrendered eight goals in the last five

matches after giving up one score in the first four of 2012.

“We have to stay level-headed,” Busch told MLS’ official

website. “… We’ve got another big challenge ahead of us on

Saturday – we’ve got to go into Vancouver and pick up some points

there against a very disciplined and organized team. So there’s no

time to dwell on this one.”

The Whitecaps host the Earthquakes again July 22.