Earthquakes begin homestand against Kansas City (Jun 17, 2017)

BY AP • June 16, 2017

Clinging to a three-way tie for fifth place in the Western Conference, the San Jose Earthquakes will host first-place Sporting Kansas City Saturday night at Avaya Stadium. It's the first of three straight home matches for the Earthquakes.

San Jose (5-6-4, 19 points) is tied with Vancouver and Seattle, though Vancouver has two games in hand with the other two clubs. A victory over Sporting (7-4-5, 26 points) would further the Quakes' cause to reach the MLS playoffs for the first time since 2012. Sporting is two points clear of Portland and three ahead of Houston and FC Dallas atop the Western Conference table.

Both clubs are coming off midweek shutout victories in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Sporting defeated Minnesota United FC 4-0 at home, extending Kansas City's unbeaten streak at home to 18 matches. Meanwhile, San Jose defeated the NASL's San Francisco Deltas 2-0, also at home.

But the road has been difficult for Sporting KC. The team is winless in its last four matches and has failed to score in six of eight road games this year.

Sporting is led in goals by Gerso Fernandes with seven. Dom Dwyer has six goals. Goalkeeper Tim Melia leads MLS's best defense with a 0.69 goals against average and eight clean sheets.

The Earthquakes began the season with back-to-back wins, but have recorded just three wins in their 13th matches since then. Chris Wondolowski leads the side in goals (six) and assists (five), and Jahmir Hyka has added three goals and three assists.

"We have a stretch of three home games that are vital," said San Jose midfielder Shea Salinas. "Playing Sporting Kansas City, our main objective is to get three points and move up in the table. I think we showed well in our Open Cup game and we're excited to show well against Sporting Kansas City."

Sporting Kansas City has won three straight meetings against San Jose, including a 2-1 decision on March 18 at Children's Mercy Park. That victory brought the all-time regular season series to a dead-even tie. Both sides own 24 wins and seven draws dating back to the inaugural 1996 MLS season. SKC's 2-1 victory last September won its first match in San Jose since 2000, a stretch of 18 games without a win. Since September 2004, the home team in this match-up is 20-2-2 across all competitions.

Sporting KC's injury report has just one name, as defender Erik Palmer-Brown is questionable with a hip injury. San Jose has numerous absences. Florian Jungwirth has played every minute of the 2017 season so far, but will miss Saturday's match after sustaining an ankle injury on Wednesday. Regular starters Fatai Alashe (knee) and Shaun Francis (hamstring) are listed as questionable, while Quincy Amarikwa (ACL), Harold Cummings (ankle) and Marc Pelosi (knee) are all ruled out.

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