Earthquakes-Whitecaps FC Preview
Enjoying their longest MLS winning streak of the year, Chris Wondolowski and the San Jose Earthquakes have climbed back into the playoff mix.
Holding on to one of the final postseason spots in the Western Conference, the Vancouver Whitecaps haven't been able to get much going of late.
The Earthquakes go for a fourth consecutive league victory Saturday night when they visit the Whitecaps, who try to snap a three-game winless stretch.
After failing to post back-to-back victories through its first 20 MLS matches, San Jose (8-9-6) has outscored opponents 5-1 during its win streak.
The Earthquakes beat Chivas USA 2-0 last Saturday to climb within three points of Vancouver (9-7-6) and Los Angeles for the last two playoff spots in the West.
"I think the way we've been playing can get us in," said Wondolowski, who scored both goals in his first game back since playing on the U.S. national team. "That's the great thing about this team, it's not just one player who's carrying us. It's all 11 working for each other.
"We had two wins coming in, so I'm glad we could get another win and really get this thing moving."
While the Earthquakes still have their work cut out, Wondolowski's return should help their cause going forward.
"When we're playing well, I can play well, because we create a lot of opportunities, a lot of chances," the two-time Golden Boot winner said. "And that tends to ignite me a bit."
Leading the club with seven goals, Wondolowski provided all the offense in a 1-all draw against Vancouver on April 6. The Earthquakes are 1-2-3 in the series despite his seven goals.
"You just have to make sure you compete with him," Whitecaps captain Jay DeMerit said. "You've got to make sure that you don't give him a chance."
The Whitecaps are looking to get back on track after managing two goals during an 0-2-1 stretch. They saw their offensive struggles continue last Saturday before Jordan Harvey scored in the 69th minute to force a 1-all draw at Portland.
Already without several key players, Vancouver suffered another big blow when defender Brad Rusin went down with a sprained right ankle in the first half.
"It shows the depth of our squad, and that's encouraging as we go forward," coach Martin Rennie said.
Harvey's four goals are third on the team behind Camilo's 13 and Kenny Miller's six.
"(Harvey) is doing really well," Rennie said. "I'm really pleased for him, because he's the kind of player who quite often doesn't get a lot of credit, but we value him very highly."
While Rusin's availability for Saturday doesn't look good, Miller (right adductor strain) is hoping to play.
Vancouver opened 7-0-3 at home before falling 1-0 to Philadelphia on July 27. The Whitecaps haven't dropped back-to-back matches on their own field since Sept. 24-Oct. 2 of their inaugural 2011 season.
The Earthquakes fell to 1-10-2 on the road, including non-league games, with Wednesday's 1-0 loss to Montreal in a CONCACAF Champions League group stage opener.