The Columbus Crew are riding a seven-game unbeaten streak while climbing up the standings in the Eastern Conference. Though their current run doesn't include a road victory, the chances of accomplishing that feat seem fairly good.
Columbus knows to expect a tough match Saturday night when the San Jose Earthquakes look for their first home victory while attempting to end a six-game winless streak.
The Crew (3-1-4) kept their run going by salvaging a 1-all draw last Saturday against Seattle on Emilio Renteria's penalty kick in the 67th minute. Columbus, which is tied for first place in the East but winless in its last eight road matches dating back to last season, is bracing for an Earthquakes team desperate for three points at home.
"They're obviously feeling a little pinned back right now and know they're going to have to chase some points," goalkeeper William Hesmer said. "They're going to bring everything they have. They haven't won at home yet so that's got to be burning them, so it's important for us to take any confidence out of their sails right away."
Renteria may be the key to doing so. The surging forward has all of Columbus' four goals over the last three games.
Coach Robert Warzycha believes the Earthquakes will try to play a physical game and knows the Crew must finish their scoring opportunities when presented to them.
"They're a good team, a very physical team," Warzycha said. "You just go and try and steal the points. Obviously we're very capable of winning away from home. We need to concentrate on how we're going to finish our chances in front of the goal. If we get better on that we're going to be really, really good."
While Columbus seems confident, the frustration continues to mount for San Jose (1-4-3).
The Earthquakes were unable to hold on to a late lead Wednesday, allowing Vancouver to score in injury time resulting in a 1-all draw. San Jose is 0-3-3 since beating Dallas on March 26.
"It's just so frustrating on the bench, not to get that second one that I think would have sealed the match," coach Frank Yallop said. "It's three precious points, but we let it slip away."
Chris Wondolowski scored his team-leading fourth goal of the season for San Jose, which returns home after playing its last two on the road. However, the Earthquakes are 0-2-2 on their home field.
Despite a long winless streak, midfielder Sam Cronin seems confident San Jose is on the right track to ending it soon.
"I think we did everything we talked about pregame, so we're pleased with that," Cronin told the team's official website. "It's not ideal, but at the end of the day, we've got to make sure we put an honest effort in. These games might be unlucky and tough to swallow, but we've just got to keep going."
The Crew and Earthquakes played to two draws last season, and San Jose is winless in the last four meetings against Columbus.