cristian espinoza

The San Jose Earthquakes will host Seattle Sounders FC on Wednesday, Sept. 29, closing the series between the two Western Conference clubs this season. Wednesday’s match will mark the third encounter between San Jose and Seattle in 2021. The Quakes fell to the Sounders 1-0 on May 12 at PayPal Park, before defeating them 1-0 at Lumen Field on July 31, resulting in their first victory in the series since June 2015.

Despite a 11-14-8 record in all-time regular-season matchups between San Jose and Seattle, history shows that the Sounders have been dominant against the Quakes in the past six years. San Jose was held to a 14-match winless streak that came to end after claiming their 1-0 victory at Lumen Field in July.

The Quakes have many positives to build on in Wednesday’s match, including a two-match winning streak and three consecutive MLS Team of Week appearances from midfielder Chofis. At just three points below the playoff line, every remaining match is an opportunity for the Quakes to move into a playoff position.

Midfielder Jackson Yueill says the conversations in the locker room have become centered around the postseason. Speaking after Saturday night’s victory, Yueill said the team is in good spirits, and highly motivated to compete and lock in a playoff berth.

“I think there are still a lot of games left,” Yueill said. “It’s still really close and these two games were important for us. We’ve narrowed down to the last third of the season. We learned from our first year to last year of when to push and when to hit our stride. We hit a really good stride last year going into the playoffs and that helped us a lot.

“I think the team is in a really good spot. Collectively, as a group, how we’re interacting, the motivation and dialogue in the locker room is really positive and great and it showed tonight that the guys have a desire to win. Even though it’s going to be close up until the end, the guys have the desire to push for the playoffs and try to get up in the table as high as we can and play as best as we can.”

On the flip side, Seattle will play to keep hold of first place in the Western Conference. Only a sliver of points separate Seattle (48 pts.) from second- place Sporting KC (46) and third-place Colorado (45).

The Northwest club will be going into Wednesday’s game as the current leader of the Western Conference, most recently defeating Sporting Kansas City 2-0 on the road last weekend. Seattle also possesses the threat of Raul Ruidíaz, who ranks second in MLS in goals (14). However, the Peruvian striker has not recorded a goal in over 360 minutes of play and will seek to snap that streak.

With the absence of Cristian Espinoza, San Jose will count on Chofis to be the difference maker and continue his form, which includes six goals in September. Benji Kikanovic is also finding his footing in MLS, registering an assist and a game-winning goal in his last two matches.

Wednesday’s match kicks off at 7:30 p.m. PT and will be broadcast on NBC Sports Bay Area Plus, KNBR 1050 and 1370 KZSF.