Match Preview

MATCH PREVIEW: Earthquakes host a rematch with Austin FC

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The San Jose Earthquakes return to MLS regular-season play this Saturday, May 25, when they face Austin FC at home. Kickoff from PayPal Park is set for 7:30 p.m. PT and will be broadcast globally on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV, as well as on local radio AM 810 The Spread (English) and AM 1370 La Kaliente (Spanish).

This weekend’s game serves as a rematch from a wild back-and-forth affair on April 6 when San Jose fell 4-3 to Austin FC at Q2 Stadium. Despite goals from Paul Marie, Jeremy Ebobisse and Amahl Pellegrino, the hosts reeled off three straight goals in six minutes to pull out the victory.

The Quakes head into Saturday with revenge on their mind, with new Designated Player signing Hernán López making his presence felt immediately, notching three goals in four games in all competitions. Cristian Espinoza continues to make his case to repeat as an MLS All-Star with two goals and eight assists.

Meanwhile, Austin FC comes to town riding a two-game win streak and a 6-4-4 season record, good for third in the Western Conference. Playmaking midfielder Sebastian Driussi remains a reference point for the visitors, having scored five goals this season. In addition, Jáder Obrian is also a threat in attack, having amassed four goals this season.

During the club’s midweek press conference, Earthquakes defender Carlos Akapo addressed the rematch and a need to tighten up the defense.

“Austin's definitely a competitive team; they demonstrated that in the first game,” Akapo said. We fought very hard to win go for all three points. Unfortunately, we couldn't achieve that. But now it's a different moment in the season. So you know, we'll come in with a very strong effort. We're going to go for the win and see if we can go for the clean sheet. That is a very important three points being able to do that at home.”

Head coach Luchi Gonzalez spoke toward the team’s mentality heading into the weekend.

“There's nobody that wants this more to go in a better direction than the players themselves and, you know, I feel for them for that,” Gonzalez said. “The result of the last game, we didn't get the job done there at the end even though we thought we were about to but we're competing consistently in any competition.

“We've had the lead in eight out of [14 MLS games]. That does show you that we're ready, we're prepared and we compete. Competing and winning are two different things. We’ve got to keep working on our ability to make decisions individually, collectively.”

The Quakes will enter this rematch after two late heartbreak losses; an 89th-minute loss to Orlando City SC at PayPal Park and an extra-time loss to Sacramento Republic FC in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Round of 16 where the team led through 106 minutes. San Jose will look to bounce back within the friendly confines of PayPal Park.

“We have an awesome opportunity to get better and when we do find the right balance, we're coming for the league, and we're coming for the next team that's in front of us,” Gonzalez said. “That's the relentless attitude I'm going to have and we're going to have to keep getting better. ... [W]e have that capacity to then start raising the level again and finding ways to win again, and we're going to do everything we can to do that.”