Though the San Jose Earthquakes & New York City FC face similar predicaments, the teams' mindsets heading into their first-ever meeting are probably very different.
New York City FC (8-14-7) enters Saturday night's matchup off arguably its best effort of the season, a 2-0 victory over Toronto FC on Wednesday that came with leading scorer David Villa sidelined by a hamstring injury. Conversely, San Jose (11-11-7) comes to Yankee Stadium following Wednesday's 1-all tie with Montreal that can best be described as disappointing.
The Earthquakes held a 1-0 lead in the second half against a Montreal squad playing a man down & resting several key regulars, most notably star striker Didier Drogba, yet the Impact scored in the 65th minute to deny San Jose two potentially critical points.
p>"It was very frustrating, especially in the manner it happened," Earthquakes coach Dominic Kinnear stated.
San Jose is one point out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference with five games remaining.
"At 1-0 & a red card, should we have killed the game off? I think probably everyone in this room would say yes, you probably should have," Kinnear said. "The turnaround is too quick for us to look back & go, 'Well, we should have done this.'"
Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski scored his fifth goal in six games & 107th of his career, one shy of tying New York City coach Jason Kreis for fifth on MLS' career list. He'll be going up against a NYCFC squad that stonewalled Toronto's Sebastian Giovinco on Wednesday in its first clean sheet in 13 games.
"That's the biggest thing tonight apart from the three points," Kreis told the team's official website. "To obtain a shutout was critical for us against a team that is very satisfactory in the attacking half of the field."
Kreis' club had been struggling mightily at the back end, entering the match having yielded nine goals during a three-game skid & 17 in a 1-5-1 stretch. The slump dropped New York to eighth in the East, two points behind sixth-place Montreal – which has three games in hand.
"Hopefully this result is fresh in our minds as we take the field again & we can use the same formula," goalkeeper Josh Saunders said.
New York may need another stout defensive effort with Villa, tied for third in MLS with 15 goals, questionable for Saturday. Frank Lampard helped offset Villa's absence when the former Chelsea star netted his first MLS goal Wednesday.
Among those attempting to stop Wondolowski will be Jason Hernandez, who spent seven seasons with the Earthquakes before being selected by NYCFC in December's expansion draft. The New York native's 165 games with San Jose is the fourth-highest total in franchise history.
Sports & RecreationSoccerSan Jose EarthquakesNew York CityDavid VillaNew York City FCToronto FC