Earthquakes-Sporting Kansas City Preview
The San Jose Earthquakes know all too well how difficult Sporting Park can be for a visiting club.
Sporting Kansas City puts a 16-game home unbeaten streak on the line in Wednesday night's showdown with a San Jose side it's dominated as the host for more than a decade.
These teams resume a series that's been thoroughly one-sided in favor of the home team of late. The visitor hasn't prevailed since the Earthquakes earned a 2-0 decision at Arrowhead Stadium on Aug. 14, 2004, with San Jose outscored by a 19-4 margin while losing 10 straight trips to Kansas City since across all competitions.
The Earthquakes aren't alone in struggling at Sporting Park, where Kansas City has gone 8-0-4 in MLS games this season and owns four more victories in U.S. Open Cup play for the league's longest active unbeaten run. That success has helped Sporting (11-4-7) produce an MLS-best 1.82 points per game.
Though Kansas City, 8-1-1 in its last 10 overall, trails first-place Los Angeles by three points and Vancouver by two in the Western Conference, it holds four games in hand on the Galaxy and three on the Whitecaps.
Sporting extended its streak and gained ground on Vancouver with Saturday's thrilling 4-3 triumph. Kansas City scored three unanswered goals from the 81st minute on, with Paulo Nagamura netting the final two that included the decider in stoppage time.
"We played one of the best teams in the conference - arguably the best team in the league - and we were still able to find a way to win," captain Matt Besler said. "That says a lot about the team."
Dom Dwyer also had a late goal to give him eight over Sporting's last nine games across all competitions. Benny Feilhaber has three goals and four assists over the past five league games and ranks second in MLS with 13 assists.
San Jose (8-10-5) sits six points out of a playoff spot but enters on a high note, having halted an 0-8-1 stretch counting international play with Friday's 1-0 win over Colorado despite losing defender Jordan Stewart to a season-ending torn Achilles in the first half.
"We went back to how we were playing at the beginning of the year," goalkeeper David Bingham said. "We were compact and it was very hard for them to break us down. I felt Shaun Francis came in and showed why he is a true vet to take over for Jordan after he went off the field."
Quincy Amarikwa assisted on Clarence Goodson's tally in the 53rd minute after scoring the Earthquakes' previous four MLS goals.
San Jose's 24 goals are the league's second-lowest total and it's allowed 11 while losing four straight on the road.