The San Jose Earthquakes head into Saturday’s match in seventh place in the Western Conference. At the final whistle, they will be somewhere between fourth and ninth.
The playoff race is as tight as ever, and with a reduced number of fixtures, each individual match weighs more heavily than years past. A mere four points separate the fourth and final playoff spot to host a first-round match and the ninth-place team that will be watching the postseason from their couch.
As the Quakes push on for their first postseason berth since 2017, they’ll need to ward off at least four teams in the West – and nobody’s quite sure what will happen with the Colorado Rapids and their lack of matches played due to COVID. One of those teams could end up being Saturday’s opponent, Vancouver Whitecaps FC, who are just three points in their rearview mirror.
A win for either team would give them three points while the other take home nothing, effectively making this game worth six points relative to one another. After the match, San Jose could either be ahead of Vancouver by six points or zero (or three with a draw).
Let’s take a more in-depth look at San Jose’s upcoming opponent:
Despite having 12 losses and a -18 goal-differential, both worst in MLS, Vancouver is currently above the playoff line in eighth place with a 7-12-0 record.
How good Vancouver’s form is sort of depends how far back you want to go: 2-1-0 in their last three sounds pretty good, but 2-5-0 in their last seven does not. Vancouver hasn’t been dealt an easy hand having to play their home games in Portland due to international travel restrictions, and October wins over LAFC and RSL will certainly provide a confidence boost. Their most recent match was a 1-0 loss to the LA Galaxy, who snapped a six-match losing streak.
The Quakes will get their first look at Canadian striker Lucas Cavallini. He did not feature in either of the two prior meetings this season and has been red-hot of late, scoring three goals in his last three matches. The high-priced striker has five goals in 14 appearances so far in his debut season with Whitecaps FC.
San Jose and Vancouver have played a lot of important and dramatic matches in recent years, including their first-round postseason contest back in 2017. The Quakes have scored at least three in each of the last four meetings, all wins, and haven’t been shut out by Whitecaps FC since October 2016. The Quakes will be seeking a season sweep of Vancouver for the first time ever.
The match kicks off at 7 p.m. PT and will be broadcast live on NBC Sports California, KNBR 1050 and 1370 KZSF.