The Los Angeles Galaxy have topped the MLS standings practically from the moment they stepped onto the pitch this season, which makes the San Jose Earthquakes’ trip to the Home Depot Center on Thursday their biggest match of the season.
But there would have been even more at stake if the Quakes hadn’t taken care of business beforehand.
“It’s big, but it would have been bigger if we had lost in Philly,” Quakes coach Frank Yallop told MLSsoccer.com, referring to his team’s 2-1 come-from-behind victory over the Union in their last league appearance. “Every game’s big. We’re just trying to get three points every time.”
With a 6-4-4 record, the Quakes are on 22 points and own some separation between their nearest playoff pursuers. Houston and Seattle each have 19 points, but San Jose have two and three matches in hand, respectively, against them.
While there’s pressure to earn a result in the Quakes’ first meeting of the season against the class of the MLS, it’s not a must-win situation.
“To go to the best team in the league, at home, is a tough game,” Yallop said. “We understand that. But we’ve gone to Salt Lake and gotten a point. We’re trying to get a win, obviously, any game we play, but we’re just trying to do the right things to get points, and we’ve been pretty tough to break down at times, in most of our games away from home.”
“Hopefully, we can do the same [against the Galaxy], and if we can get a win, then great,” he added. “If not, we’re just trying not to lose the game.”
San Jose haven’t lost since the World Cup break, a four-match stretch including their scoreless tie against EPL power Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday.
“We have a second good game coming up in a short amount of time, so we’re definitely going to see how good of a team we are,” Quakes rookie Ike Opara told MLSsoccer.com.
Not beating Los Angeles wouldn’t cripple San Jose’s playoff chances, but a win would be a nice feather in the Quakes’ cap. San Jose’s most impressive victory of the season to this point is a 4-0 trouncing of New York, but that was spurred by a 13th-minute red card to the Red Bulls’ Luke Sassano.
“They’re doing things right,” Quakes midfielder/forward Arturo Alvarez told MLSsoccer.com. “They’re the best team in the league right now. They’re playing really well, they have Landon [Donovan] and Edson [Buddle] back, so I think it’s going to be really good, a good game, I’ll tell you that much.”
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @sjquakes