Dynamo vie for season sweep of Earthquakes (Sep 16, 2017)

BY AP • September 15, 2017

If the Houston Dynamo reach the playoffs, they may be able to point to their success against the San Jose Earthquakes this season as a big reason for the accomplishment.

Houston will try to sweep the three-game season series on Saturday night at Avaya Stadium, where they will also try to keep host San Jose off the scoresheet once more.

Houston (10-9-8) is in fifth place the Western Conference and one point in front of FC Dallas for the final playoff berth. San Jose (10-12-6) is seventh in the conference -- two points behind the Dynamo but only one ahead of Real Salt Lake.

While Houston has the best home record in the West at 9-1-3, coach Wilmer Cabrera's team has been dismal on the road with a 1-8-5 mark. As the Earthquakes continue to battle for a playoff berth, they can also play spoiler as the club is 7-1-5 in northern California with four home games remaining.

"It is a very tough team. They have been very good at home. They're trying to reach the playoff. For them to do that they have to win at home. It is going to be a tough game," Cabrera told the Houston Chronicle.

Both teams are coming off shutout losses last Saturday. Houston was blanked, 1-0, by league-worst Colorado and is winless in three straight matches, while San Jose dropped a 4-0 decision to Toronto FC.

Houston will be looking for its third shutout of San Jose this season. On April 22, Erick Torres scored on a penalty kick in the ninth minute and Albert Elis added an insurance tally in the 72nd minute. Torres leads the Dynamo with 14 goals.

Elis and Vicente Sanchez figured prominently in the scoring for the Dynamo in their 3-0 win over the Earthquakes on Aug. 12. After Elis scored in the 21st minute, he assisted on Sanchez's tally in the 86th minute. Sanchez, who was a late second-half substitution, recorded his second point of the contest by assisting on Mauro Manotas' tally deep into extra time.

Cabrera is not expecting the same result.

"Even though we have played against them twice, it has been here in Houston," he told the Chronicle. "Now it is in San Jose. Everything changes. Even if we were playing here in Houston, it would be a different game."

San Jose captain Chris Wondolowski is on the cusp of two milestones. Saturday's appearance will be the 251st of his career, passing Ramiro Corrales for most in 'Quakes history. The American also needs two markers to move past Jaime Moreno into sole possession of third place on the league's all-time goal-scoring list. The Bolivian scored 133 goals in a 15-year career that ended in 2010.

"Part of his demeanor is to play with a chip on his shoulder ... it probably suited him just fine," former U.S. captain Landon Donovan recently told the San Jose Mercury News about Wondolowski. "No matter what path he took or what you want to say about him it is incredible he has gotten to this place."

San Jose will be without midfielders Anibal Godoy because of yellow card accumulation and Darwin Ceren, who was given a red card against Toronto.

Brazilian midfielder Alex, who leads Houston with 10 assists, will sit out because of yellow card accumulation.

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