We’re into the home stretch now.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC kick off the final month of the 2015 MLS regular season today, when they visit San Jose Earthquakes at Avaya Stadium.
Match Day: Saturday, October 3
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.
Venue: Avaya Stadium, San Jose
Radio: TSN 1410
For Whitecaps FC, the situation is clear: win and they clinch a playoff berth. A loss, on the other hand, would bring the gap between Vancouver and the sixth-place Quakes to just two points.
Safe to say, both teams have a lot to play for.
“They’re fighting for their lives – as we are,” Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson said this week. “Everyone is fighting to get points at this crucial moment of the season so it should be a very exciting game.”
The ‘Caps enter the weekend second in the Western Conference with 48 points, and despite dropping back-to-back league matches, they aren’t reaching for the panic button.
“We’re a good group,” Robinson said. “They’re a great bunch of lads in there. There are four games to go. If you would have said at the start of this season we’d be in this position, people would have snapped their hands off. We’re competing with some very good teams in the Western Conference. And we want to be.”
Robinson’s troops appear to be getting closer to full health, too.
Designated Players Pedro Morales and Octavio Rivero, who appeared as substitutes last weekend against New York City FC, both trained on Thursday. So did San Jose native Steven Beitashour, who missed the last two matches with a knee sprain. All three players appear to be in contention for the weekend.
On the other hand, Robinson said that it may be a little “too soon” for midfielder Nicolas Mezquida to return, though he’s hopeful the Uruguayan will be available next week against Dallas.
It’s getting close to “do or die” time for San Jose.
Coming into the weekend, the Quakes trail Portland Timbers by just one point for the sixth and final playoff position. They only have three games to go, however, so they’ll certainly be treating Saturday’s match like a must-win.
Last weekend, San Jose put an end to their four-match winless run with a big 1-0 win over Real Salt Lake. Matias Perez Garcia, who’s among the league leaders in chances created this season, provided the scoring in that one.
But Garcia will be out of commission this weekend after a picking up a red card against RSL – fellow midfielders Fatai Alashe and Marc Pelosi are also unavailable due to international duty.
This will be the third and final meeting between Vancouver and San Jose this season.
Each team won their respective home game, which sets up the rubber match on Saturday. Interestingly, the away team has never won a game in the all-time series. Vancouver’s all-time MLS record against the Quakes is 6W-2L-5D. In San Jose, however, they’re 0W-2L-4D.
Earthquakes striker Chris Wondolowski has scored nearly 40 per cent of San Jose’s goals this season. The 32-year-old has a team-high 15 goals – the next player on the team has five.