Match Preview

MATCH PREVIEW: Earthquakes return to PayPal Park to host LAFC

The San Jose Earthquakes seek their fourth-straight victory over Los Angeles Football Club on Saturday, Sept. 25 at PayPal Park, presented by Valley Health Plan. Saturday’s game will be the second of three matchups between San Jose and LAFC in 2021. The Quakes defeated LAFC 2-1 at home on Aug. 8 with goals from defender Nathan and midfielder Chofis.

In the early history between the two clubs, the Quakes quickly discovered the threat from the 2018 MLS expansion team, falling in their first five matchups against head Coach Bob Bradley and the 2019 MLS MVP Carlos Vela.

Now, San Jose are 3-5-0 against LAFC in eight total matches, flipping their losing streak against them into a three-match winning streak. San Jose earned a pair of victories over the SoCal side in 2020, defeating them for the first time ever at Banc of California Stadium on Sept. 27 (2-1), and later at PayPal Park on Nov. 4 (3-2), in which San Jose clinched their first Audi MLS Cup Playoffs appearance since 2017.

To many, Los Angeles Football Club appears as if they are unlike past versions of themselves, currently occupying eighth place (9-10-6) in the Western Conference standings and falling 2-1 in their last match against the Portland Timbers on Saturday. Despite the circumstances, Earthquakes head coach Matias Almeyda anticipates a battle against an opponent that continues to be dangerous.

"We're up against a team that many are saying have dropped their level,” Almeyda said during Wednesday’s media availability. “I only see one difference in this LAFC team from the last time we faced them. I think about what I see, and what I try to study. The only difference I see is that they're not putting away every chance they get. When they are completing their chances, they're a dynamic, fast, aggressive and technical team.

“They are one of the best teams in the league, accompanied by a great coach with great experience. A coach that has given much to the league and is respected by the league. They have a good combo that is dangerous. We know what it means to go up against them because in reality they have beaten us many times. We will try to be competitive against this great opponent."

LAFC will enter Saturday’s contest without marquee players Carlos Vela and Diego Rossi. Vela continues to recover from a quad injury sustained in a match against Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Aug. 21, while Rossi is currently on loan with Turkish side Fenerbahçe S.K. for the rest of the season. However, the 2019 Supporters’ Shield winners are currently led by new forward Cristian Arango (6) and midfielder Eduard Atuesta (7) in goals and assists, respectively. Arango has become productive for LAFC since joining the club on Aug. 2, tallying six goals in eight total matches since his MLS debut on Aug. 8.

Saturday’s match, which will celebrate the Quakes’ annual Portuguese Heritage Night, kicks off at 7:00 p.m. PT and will be broadcast on Telemundo 48, 560 KSFO and 1370 KZSF.