The San Jose Earthquakes have gone slightly more than two months without a victory and look to end their slump when they host the Portland Timbers on Saturday night at Avaya Stadium.
The Earthquakes (1-4-2) are mired in a six-game winless stretch since defeating the Minnesota United in their season opener on March 3.
That isn’t the type of start San Jose coach Mikael Stahre was anticipating.
“That is hard for the moment,” Stahre told reporters, “but we have a great group of guys and a great mentality so hopefully we can work harder together and hopefully win really soon.”
Portland (2-3-2) is showing life with two consecutive victories after its own slow start.
However, the Timbers are just 0-3-2 on the road this season and stand just 1-4-4 all-time when playing in San Jose.
“I have seen the team improving weekend after weekend,” Portland coach Giovanni Savarese told reporters. “The important thing is we have to sustain it. We have to continue to grow. We have to continue to be strong, even more so now against a very difficult team like San Jose this weekend.”
The Timbers were highly impressive in their last match when they defeated MLS-leading New York City FC 3-0 on April 22.
The defensive performance rated as a major step up after Portland allowed two or more goals in five of its first six matches. It also occurred with defender Liam Ridgewell back on the pitch after a four-game benching for perceived lack of effort in Savarese’s eyes.
The Portland defense will be looking to slow San Jose forwards Danny Hoesen and Chris Wondolowski. The speedy Hoesen has a team-leading three goals while Wondolowski (one goal) ranks second in MLS history with 135 goals, 10 shy of Landon Donovan’s record.
The Earthquakes have also struggled to keep balls out of the net by allowing two or more goals in six of their seven matches.
Marking the Timbers’ duo of midfielder Sebastian Blanco (team-best four goals) and midfielder Diego Valeri (three goals, three assists) will be crucial. Valeri is the first Portland player since 2015 to record an assist in three straight games.
Also, Portland forward Fanendo Adi has scored a goal in back-to-back games.
—Field Level Media