The San Jose Earthquakes, after a bright start to the 2016 MLS regular season, have limped to the midway point on the outside looking in at the six playoffs spots available in the Western Conference. On Friday night at Avaya Stadium, the Quakes welcome the table toppers in the West, FC Dallas, in all-important match in their quest to make the postseason for the first time since 2012.
San Jose have not lost at home all season, achieving a 5-0-2 mark at Avaya Stadium, which does not include a 1-1 draw at Stanford Stadium in the Quakes last "home" game. However, in nine road games this season, the Earthquakes have yet to record a win, and that has contributed greatly to their standings predicament. At the very least, until they can begin to earn victories away from San Jose, the Quakes will need to continue their winning ways at Avaya.
FC Dallas comes to the Bay Area with the most points in all of MLS. (The Colorado Rapids have earned more points per game than any other team, but they have played two fewer games than Dallas so far this season.) Led by playmaker Mauro Diaz and defender Matt Hedges, FCD is a challenging team to break down. The Hoops have scored 30 goals in 2016 -- best in the West -- and feature dynamic attackers Fabian Castillo and Michael Barrios on the wings.
The Earthquakes, who have been decimated with injuries this season, welcome back center backs Victor Bernardez and Andres Imperiale for Friday's game, which will help greatly in slowing down Dallas's potent offense. Fatai Alashe will not be available, as he will be serving a one-game yellow card accumulation suspension. Defender Jordan Stewart is questionable for the game and is likely to see time, if at all, only as a substitute.
San Jose and FC Dallas have faced off twice already this season, with the teams trading goals in a 2-2 draw in Frisco, Texas, back on April 9, and ending scoreless at Avaya Stadium on May 28. All time, the Quakes are 25-19-14 against Dallas going back to 1996. At home, the Earthquakes boast a 15-7-7 record against the Hoops. Despite San Jose's impressive overall numbers, in the last six matches between the teams, FCD is unbeaten.
The Earthquakes will be celebrating Pride Night during the FCD match, with special events and ceremonies occurring before and during the game. In fact, former CSN sideline reporter Kate Scott, a proud member of the LGBT community, will be on hand for the night's festivities to kick the ceremonial first goal. As part of the club's effort to be inclusive of all fans, the Quakes will also institute policies to expunge the use of offensive language at Avaya Stadium in response to homophobic slurs being chanted at the Cali Clasico at Stanford Stadium last month.
The match Friday evening will be the second game of an MLS doubleheader televised by UniMas as part of Viernes de Futbol -- the league's weekly Friday showcase event. The earlier match presents Orlando City hosting the Houston Dynamo. Of the four teams in action in MLS Friday night, only FC Dallas currently sit in playoff position.
How to Watch:
Match date/time: Friday, July 8, 13:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, 7:30 p.m. Pacific time
Venue: Avaya Stadium, San Jose, California
TV: UniMas (Spanish)
Radio: 1590 KLIV (English), 1370 KZSF (Spanish)
Streaming: MLS Live (blackout may apply)