The San Jose Earthquakes must be near-perfect in their last six matches of the 2019 regular season schedule. San Jose’s final six regular-season matches are scheduled against clubs that have either clinched MLS Cup Playoffs or fighting to remain above the playoff line in their respective conferences.
Needless to say, the Western Conference is extremely volatile. Several teams, including the Earthquakes, are in hot pursuit of second place. The Quakes improved to 13-10-5 after defeating Orlando City SC 3-0 on Aug. 31, putting them two points behind Seattle Sounders FC, who remain in second (13-9-7, 46 pts) despite suffering a 2-0 weekend defeat to the Colorado Rapids.
This week, the Quakes will embark on a three-match road series, starting with a mid-week clash with Real Salt Lake on Wednesday, Sept. 11 at Rio Tinto Stadium. The Black and Blue defeated the Claret and Cobalt in July, extending their unbeaten streak against the Utah side to three matches (1-0-2). Despite the unbeaten streak, earning three points at Rio Tinto Stadium will be no walk in the park. Real Salt Lake are 10-3-1 at home in 2019, including a record of 3-1-1 in their last five in Sandy, demonstrating that they can and will defend their stomping grounds.
Looking ahead to Wednesday’s matchup, San Jose will be looking to build on its two-match winning streak, and with a bit of fortune, jump back into second place in the Western Conference standings. RSL, with a current record of 13-11-4, are also eligible to move into second place if they earn the three points. Real Salt Lake will be especially hungry for a win, having suffered a 1-0 defeat to the Portland Timbers in their last MLS fixture.
Both clubs will be forced to make adjustments in their Starting XIs as a result of the international break. Earthquakes defender Nick Lima and midfielder Jackson Yueill, and Real Salt Lake forward Corey Baird, remain with the United States Men’s’ National Team to face Uruguay in an international friendly on Tuesday. Yueill has led the Quakes to 13-6-5 record as a regular starter. The Quakes have suffered a 0-4-0 record without Yueill in the Starting XI.
Earthquakes goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski and Real defenders Justen Glad and Aaron Herrera, midfielder Sebastian Saucedo and forward Brooks Lennon were all called up to represent the U-23 U.S. MNT in a friendly versus Japan on Monday.
Georgian internationals Guram Kashia and Vako, Panamanian defender Harold Cummings and Peruvian defender Marcos Lopez are all coming back from their respective international duties. Vako has scored eight goals and notched four assists so far this season in 19 starts this season.
Slovakia international midfielder Albert Rusnák and Venezuelan international forward Jefferson Savarino rank first and third in goals scored for Real in 2019 with nine and seven, respectively. The pair may be absent in Wednesday night’s clash due to international call ups.
Wednesday’s match is set for 6:30 p.m. and will be broadcast live on NBC Sports California Plus, KNBR 1050 and 1370 KZSF.