The San Jose Earthquakes find themselves in unfamiliar territory as they get ready to do battle with the best team in the league. Twenty-five matches into their season the Quakes are in the middle of one of the closest playoff races in recent memory. Just five points separate second-place Minnesota United FC and eighth place FC Dallas with less than ten games left in the season. If the Quakes want to continue to stay in that race, they are going to have to get some points on the road which they have failed to do the last couple of weeks.
Standing in their way is Los Angeles FC who is running away not only with the Western Conference, but they are also 13 points ahead of Atlanta United in the Supporters Shield race. Bob Bradley’s squad dismantled the Quakes in their first meeting beating the Quakes 5-0 behind a David Vela hat trick. Leaving Los Angeles with points would not only keep the Quakes in the playoff race it would show the league that the Quakes should be mentioned with the best teams this season.
Matias Almeyda will have most of his roster to work with as Anibal Godoy returned from his abdominal surgery last week. However, he will not be able to call on Judson who will miss the match due to yellow card accumulation. In that first match, Judson started but played only 45 minutes before being substituted for Jackson Yueill. The two newcomers, Andres Rios, and Carlos Fierro have also got their first taste of MLS action and are looking to make their big impression on Quakes fans. Somehow they are going to have to find a way to beat a team that they have never beaten and has not lost a home game all season. The only blemish for LA was a 0-0 draw against Chicago fire on May 5, a game Los Angeles dominated statistically but would have lost if it wasn’t for some desperate defending.
The Quakes are not the type of team to park the bus and absorb shot-after-shot; they are going to go after you from the first whistle. That has been a weakness of past Almeyda managed teams, and LAFC has the most potent attack in the league. If the Quakes want to be taken as serious contenders, they are going to need to find a way to overcome both of those and if this team has been great at anything this season is proving everyone wrong.