Earthquakes overcome shaky start, host DC United

After San Jose picked up four points in two road matches, things don’t seem quite so dreary for the Earthquakes.

The Earthquakes (2-5-3), who return to host D.C. United on Saturday, followed a 3-1 win at Minnesota with a 2-2 draw on Wednesday in Vancouver.

“It shows resilience from that squad, when we’re down we can pick ourselves up,” said Nick Lima, whose 53rd-minute goal gave San Jose a brief 2-1 lead against Vancouver. “We have to come together as a group and keep fighting.

“Now we go home and have an opportunity to get three points again. Guys are starting to pick their heads up. You can’t hang your head too low and you can’t hang your head too high. I think we’re learning that and it’s a long season. We’re in a real good spot.”

Both Earthquakes wins thus far this season have come against the Loons.

Although San Jose is winless in eight of its nine games since the season opener, head coach Mikael Stahre saw signs of hope after the road trip.

“In general, I think there’s a fine line between winning and losing,” Stahre told reporters on Wednesday night. “We came out really poor this season for sure.

“I think we deserve better, but we need to still improve, but I think now we’re on the right track. … We’ve got four points out of six, that’s good, so let’s win against D.C. (United on Saturday) now.”

Lima agreed, saying the team has gotten a mental boost from being on the road.

“It’s just been the togetherness,” Lima said. “We’ve had two long road trips now in the past couple of weeks. Guys have been able to bond on the road. We’re all in this together. It’s easy to forget that and be selfish and put your head down, but guys have been picking each other up.

“There’s some good veterans in this locker room that have seen this before. This is an organization where there’s no room for that and we’re responding so far, in a good way.”

After back-to-back 3-2 losses, D.C. United (1-5-2) is mired in last place in the Eastern Conference with an MLS-low five points (although United is the only team in the league without at least nine games played this season).

In D.C. United’s latest setback, on Wednesday at Real Salt Lake, the team played most of the game a man down after right back Joseph Mora was sent off in the 25th minute.

Despite the disadvantage, D.C. stayed close in shots (17-14) and attempts on goal (8-7).

“Even with 10 men, we were out there for 65 minutes of the game, just grinding, and still pressuring,” said Paul Arriola, who scored his first goal of the season against in the loss. “And I think it was a different D.C. United team than people have seen in the past seven games. One that wasn’t scared to go and risk it.”