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MATCH PREVIEW: San Jose’s pursuit of MLS Cup Playoffs continues with road match against NYCFC

The San Jose Earthquakes will conclude their coast-to-coast travel schedule for the week when they take on Eastern Conference leaders New York City FC on Saturday, September 14 in the Bronx, N.Y. Saturday’s match will mark San Jose’s second-straight match on the road, following a midweek 1-0 defeat to Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium.

Three of the Quakes’ remaining five regular season matches, including Saturday’s contest against NYCFC, will be played away from home. Wednesday night’s defeat marked San Jose’s fourth consecutive defeat on the road; therefore, the team urgently needs to get over their recent misfortunes and pick up as many points as they can, now that four weeks remain ahead of Decision Day. The Quakes can find some extra inspiration now that head coach Matias Almeyda will return to the technical area after serving a three-match suspension.

The Quakes will need to brace themselves for difficult circumstances when they step onto the pitch at Yankee Stadium. NYCFC hold the hottest unbeaten streak in MLS at 5-0-1 since Aug. 17. The hosts are also unbeaten in their last six home matches (5-0-1), following a 1-1 draw to Toronto FC on Wednesday. NYCFC have produced a record of 9-1-5 at Yankee Stadium in 2019.

Saturday’s match will feature some of the league’s best performers. Midfielder Maximiliano Moralez will be available for NYCFC after serving a one-match suspension for yellow card accumulation. Moralez leads the league in assists with 18.

Earthquakes midfielder Cristian Espinoza is the spearhead for San Jose’s offense, leading the team in assists with 12. Espinoza, an important element in the Quakes’ impressive turnaround from the previous season, knows to make his chances count. He is in a three-way tie for third in MLS in game-winning assists with five. Moralez ranks second in the same category with six. Saturday’s match will most likely be determined by either one of these talented midfielders and the chances they create for their teammates.

Fans could expect a shootout. San Jose (532/178) and NYCFC (444/167) rank second and third, respectively, in shots recorded and shots on goal in 2019. Yet, perhaps the match can come down to goalkeeper performances. San Jose’s Daniel Vega and New York City’s Sean Johnson are level in shutouts with seven.

Saturday’s match is set for 9:30 a.m. PT and will be broadcast live on NBC Sports California Plus, 560 KSFO and 1370 KZSF.

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