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MATCH PREVIEW: San Jose looks to keep winning streak going against Portland

It's not about how many times you fall, but how many times you get back up.

The San Jose Earthquakes are a living example of that, having now turned the page and earning three consecutive victories, sparking that light once again that many thought would not turn back on. San Jose’s 3-0 win over Vancouver on Wednesday propelled the team to seventh place in the Western Conference and are most importantly above the playoff line.

Head coach Matias Almeyda has instilled a mindset on the team that everyone has to be ready to play at any time, including the younger players. Wednesday’s match saw five Homegrown Players appear for the first time in club history (Cowell, Fuentes, Lima, Marcinkowski, Thompson), as well as each of their last four first-round SuperDraft picks (Beason, Haji, Marie, Yueill). From seeing Gilbert Fuentes and Siad Haji gain minutes, to Paul Marie scoring his first MLS goal, San Jose’s youth pipeline continues to support the first team when needed.

“We really saw a competitive team. [On Wednesday], we had 20 players even. Many youngsters participated,” Almeyda shared on Wednesday after the match. “I think standing up after the previous negative performances, there is conviction and special work that we’ve done. There is good communication and adequate interpretation. We were able to overcome that negative streak at the beginning of the season.”

With seven games left in the regular season, the Earthquakes are now focused on their next challenge. The Portland Timbers are also on a good stretch, winning their last four games, including a 6-3 victory over the LA Galaxy on Wednesday. Even though team star Sebastian Blanco continues to recover from an ACL injury, Portland counts with former MLS MVP Diego Valeri and forward Jeremy Ebobisse, who both scored on Wednesday. Ebobisse and Valeri currently lead the Timbers in goals with seven each.

After suffering a 6-1 home loss in their last meeting against Portland, the Quakes will now head north to face the Oregon side, where they have yet to take a road victory in MLS play (0-9-3). However, San Jose earned their first-ever win against LAFC on the road on Sept. 27 and will look to change the odds once again with the positive trend they are currently in.

“I think we’re in a much different spot than we were a few weeks ago when we played them,” said Homegrown goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski after Wednesday’s match. “Now, we’ve kind of got back to who we are and play the Earthquakes style of soccer, and so we just have to keep that mentality going. So much of it is that group effort. It’s a team effort…I think [about] taking that group mentality and collective effort into a tough place to play in Portland, but we just have to fight together.”

Sunday’s match, presented by Lux Bus America, is slated for 7:00 p.m. and will be broadcast on NBC Sports California, KNBR 1050 and 1370 KZSF.

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